A Vestavia Hills doctor was sentenced to greater than seven years in federal prison earlier this week for illegally prescribing almost 280,000 opioid painkillers, prosecutors mentioned Friday.
Cardiologist Steven Bruce Hefter, 61, was sentenced Wednesday to 87 months in prison after pleading responsible in December 2017 to at least one rely of conspiracy to distribute managed substances outdoors the standard scope apply and never for a official medical objective.
The cost arose from Hefter’s involvement between 2012 and 2016 with the now-defunct clinic Cindy Dunn & Dr. Buckingham, M.D., Weight Loss Clinic and Pain Management in Moody, in keeping with Jay Town, U.S. lawyer for the Northern District of Alabama. He labored on the clinic, which was described by prosecutors as a tablet mill, regardless of not specializing in ache administration.
“The opioid crisis in the United States accounts for the overdose deaths of tens of thousands of Americans every year,” Town mentioned in an announcement. “This sentence puts on notice any medical provider that justice will find you, from the street corner to the clinic. There is no hiding behind the white coat or white shoes. You will be caught, you will be prosecuted, and you will occupy a federal prison bed. We will even leave the light on for you.”
The ache clinic Hefter labored at solely took money and noticed between 40 to 80 sufferers a day. Alabama’s prescription drug monitoring program discovered Hefter wrote 2,785 prescriptions for 279,665 opioid tablets in a four-month span in late 2015. Most of these prescriptions have been pre-signed and issued to sufferers when Hefter was not on the clinic, prosecutors mentioned.
Patients on the clinic have been hardly ever, if ever, examined correctly, and the clinic didn’t actually have a affected person examination desk, in keeping with Town. Many sufferers have been both drug addicts or promoting their tablets on the road.
“This sentence should serve as a warning to unscrupulous doctors who abuse their prescribing authority and put lives at risk for financial gain,” mentioned Assistant U.S. Attorney Mohammad Khatib. “You are not above the law, and when you are caught, justice awaits.”
Hefter surrendered his Alabama medical license and federal Drug Enforcement Administration registration authorizing him to prescribe managed substances in early 2018.
He was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge L. Scott Coogler, who additionally ordered three years of supervised launch after the prison time period and for Hefter to forfeit greater than $38,000.