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Doctor Sentenced to 7 Years for Illegally Prescribing Narcotics, Defrauding Government Programs

NOV 04 (HARTFORD, Conn.) – Michael J. Ferguson Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England, Deirdre M. Daly United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut and Phillip Coyne  Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, announced that Dr. John Katsetos, 53, of Fairfield, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford to 84 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for illegally dispensing oxycodone and other controlled substances well outside of the scope of accepted medical practice, and for defrauding government healthcare programs.

“Dr. Katsetos repeatedly violated his oath to protect his patients from harm,” said U.S. Attorney Daly.  “He flooded our community with highly addictive controlled substances authorizing more than 2 million dosage units to more than 2000 patients.  His criminal conduct, which included ignoring the warnings of a doctor and pharmacists that certain patients clearly showed signs of addiction, caused dozens of his own patients to fall prey to opioid addiction.  At least one his former patients, who traveled approximately 180 miles from her home in New York to receive prescriptions from Dr. Katsetos, tragically died of an overdose.  This long prison term appropriately reflects the devastating harm he has caused.  The sentence will protect the community from this defendant and hopefully deter other medical practitioners who are inclined to put profit over patient health and safety.”

“The DEA is committed to investigating and bringing to justice those who divert and traffic oxycodone,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Ferguson.  “Opiate abuse is a major problem in Connecticut and throughout New England.  The diversion of prescription pain killers, in this case oxycodone, contributes to the widespread abuse of opiates, is a gateway to heroin addiction and is devastating our communities.  This investigation demonstrates the strength of collaborative law enforcement efforts in Connecticut and our strong partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to aggressively pursue anyone that illicitly distributes these drugs.”

According to court documents and statements made in court, Katsetos practiced medicine for more than 20 years, most recently out of offices located at 90 Morgan Street in Stamford and 353 Bridgeport Avenue in Milford.  The investigation, which included the use of undercover law enforcement personnel, revealed that Katsetos failed to perform rudimentary examinations of patients to justify the controlled substances he prescribed, and that he had been warned by a doctor and several pharmacists, some of whom stopped filling his prescriptions, that he should stop prescribing oxycodone and other narcotic pain medications to certain patients who showed obvious signs of addiction.  Katsetos ignored the warnings and continued to prescribe controlled substances, including oxycodone, to these patients outside of the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.

The investigation further revealed that Katsetos’s conduct created opioid addictions in dozens of patients, led to the overdose death of a New York woman, and supplied individuals with a vast quantity of prescription pills that they illegally distributed to others.  From November 2011 to October 2013, Katsetos authorized more than 2 million dosage units of Schedule II through IV controlled substances to more than 2000 patients.  This placed him as the eighth highest prescriber of such controlled substances in Connecticut – a list that includes hospitals.  He was the highest-ranked general practitioner on the list.  Katsetos also saw multiple patients at once and billed Medicare and Medicaid for individual visits for each of those patients.

“We expect doctors to be part of the solution to America's prescription drug fraud epidemic -- not part of the problem,” said Special Agent in Charge Phillip Coyne, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General.  “Dr. Katsetos violated the fundamental trust that taxpayers and patients extend to healthcare professionals.  This sentencing should serve as a warning to those who would abuse their positions for personal gain.”  On May 1, 2015, Katsetos pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute narcotics, and one count of health care fraud.   As part of the sentence, Judge Bryant ordered Katsetos to pay $497,789 in restitution, and to forfeit $550,000, which represents the value of his medical practice.  Katsetos was arrested on July 1, 2014, and has been released on a $1 million bond.  At the conclusion of today’s court proceeding, he was remanded to begin serving his sentence.

This matter was investigated by the DEA’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad and the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with the assistance of the State of Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Drug Control Division, and several local police departments.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Kale and Alina Reynolds.


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