News Release
December 31, 2007

Jury Finds Burkesville Dentist
Guilty of Illegally Distributing Hydrocodone

DEC 31 -- LOUISVILLE, KY - DR. MARY TODD STEPHENSON, age 50, of 1703 Smith’s Grove Road, Burkesville, Kentucky, in Cumberland County, was found guilty by a federal jury in United States District Court, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on December 21, 2007, of illegally distributing hydrocodone outside the course of professional medical practice on four separate occasions, U.S. Attorney David L. Huber of the Western District of Kentucky announced today.

The jury’s guilty verdict was returned following a three-day trial before Thomas B. Russell, Judge, United States District Court.

Stephenson, a practicing dentist for 20 years was tried for prescribing hydrocodone to patients without a medical reason, once on November 29, 2006, and on three separate occasions on March 7, 2007. Hydrocodone is a highly addictive pain killer that requires a prescription. At trial, it was shown that Cumberland County had a significant problem with the illegal sale and distribution of prescription pain killers like hydrocodone. The Kentucky State Police conducted an investigation, and several undercover buys and arrests were made. When the dealers were interviewed following their arrest, several of them identified Dr. Stephenson as their source of hydrocodone.

U.S. Attorney David L. Huber praised the cooperation of the Kentucky State Police with the DEA, saying “This is the best way to stop the illegal prescription drug dealing at the community level.”


On November 27, 2007, a confidential informant, wearing a recording device, asked Dr. Stephenson for a prescription for pain pills so she could sell the pain pills to pay her bills. Dr. Stephenson agreed, and on November 29, 2007, Dr. Stephenson prescribed hydrocodone to the informant’s relative, knowing that the relative would give the hydrocodone to the informant to sell. On March 7, 2007, three informants, each wearing recording devices, met with Dr. Stephenson in her dental office, and all three told her that they were not experiencing any pain. Dr. Stephenson nonetheless performed medically unnecessary procedures on their gums and then gave them prescriptions for hydrocodone. Dr. Stephenson subsequently billed Medicaid for these medically unnecessary procedures.

Evidence at trial also revealed the Dr. Stephenson:

  • prescribed hydrocodone to patients who were addicted,
  • sometimes prescribed hydrocodone even though she did no dental work on the patient,
  • sometimes performed medically unnecessary procedures, billed those procedures to Medicaid, and then prescribed hydrocodone,
  • prescribed hydrocodone to one patient over 70 times in four years,
  • traded prescriptions for hydrocodone to a patient in return for the patient’s Zoloft, and
  • once gave a patient 30 pills of valium as a Christmas gift.

The maximum potential penalties are 10 years imprisonment, a $500,000 fine, and supervised release for a period of 3 years. The United States has also moved to forfeit Dr. Stephenson’s ownership interest in her dental practice.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David Weiser and Bryan Calhoun, and it was investigated by the Kentucky State Police and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.

Stephenson is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Russell on March 31, 2007, at 12:00 p.m., in Bowling Green, Kentucky.