FRESNO, CA — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that law enforcement agents arrested Gonzalo Flores Ruiz, 47, of Bakersfield, today. A federal grand jury returned a 21-count indictment yesterday charging him with unlawful distribution of hydrocodone, a controlled substance. Ruiz is licensed by the State of California and practiced medicine at the Central Valley Occupational Medical Group in Bakersfield.
According to the indictment, between April 2009 and October 2011, Ruiz prescribed and distributed the painkiller hydrocodone for no legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice. Hydrocodone is an addictive prescription narcotic, the abuse of which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Hydrocodone is sold generically or under a variety of brand names, including Vicodin, Vicoprofen, Lortab, Lorcet, and Norco.
This case is the product of a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the California Department of Health Care Services Investigations, and the Medical Board of California. Assistant United States Attorney Laurel J. Montoya is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Ruiz faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison for each count. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The charges are only allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.