February 26, 2015
Contact: Sammy Parks
Phone Number: (713) 693-3000
Kerrville Doctor Sentenced To Six Years In Prison For Prescribing Controlled Substances Without A Legitimate Medical Purpose
KERRVILLE, Texas - Dr. Richard B. Debenedetto, of Kerville, TX, has been sentenced to six years imprisonment in a Texas State Correctional Facility for prescribing a controlled substance with no legitimate medical purpose, announced Drug Enforcement (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. (Houston Division), Kerr County District Attorney E. Bruce Curry, Kerr County Sheriff Rusty Heirholzer, and City of Kerrville Interim Chief of Police David Knight.
According to information and testimony presented before jurors during the October 2014 trial in the 216th District Court of Kerr County, Dr. Richard B. Debenedetto was alleged to have provided prescriptions for controlled substances for no legitimate medical purpose to visiting patients.
Court documents, related testimony and other evidentiary items presented during the trial showed that Dr. Debenedetto was one of the top prescribers in Texas for the pain cocktail that consisted of Hydrocodone, Alprazolam, and Soma. Evidence presented before the jurors showed that Dr. Debenedetto wrote prescriptions for Hydrocodone to an undercover law enforcement officer for no legitimate medical purpose on two occasions. Additionally, the evidence showed that Dr. Debenedetto had prescribed Hydrocodone with no legitimate medical purpose to two other individuals working in cooperation with the law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation.
Courtroom testimony further revealed that Dr. Debenedetto had been prescribing controlled prescription drugs to his spouse, Tina Debenedetto, and had previously been sanctioned by the Texas Medical Board for that reason. Further testimony from a witness who had been prescribed Hydrocodone unlawfully by Debenedetto detailed the abuse and struggle of Hydrocodone addiction and described how very difficult it was to stay sober, as well as how the addiction took over and consumed her life.
On October 24, 2014, jurors returned a verdict and found Dr. Richard B. Debenedetto guilty of Prescription (providing prescriptions for no legitimate medical purpose); sentencing was deferred until today.
During the sentencing, State District Judge Honorable N. Keith Williams of the 216th District Court of Kerr County sentenced Dr. Richard B. Debenedetto to six years imprisonment in a Texas State Correctional Facility.
“The Drug Enforcement Administration is determined to shut down and bring to justice rogue pain clinic operators and individuals who push drugs under the guise of legitimate medical practices,” said Arabit. “The success of this investigation and the resulting indictment, trial, conviction and sentencing of Dr. Debenedetto are the direct result of our positive partnerships with federal and state investigative agencies and sends a strong message to rogue clinic operators that they are not welcome in Texas communities.”
“The successful investigation and prosecution of this case has a direct correlation to the safety of our community. From the proliferation of prescription medication induced impairment levels, we in law enforcement have observed with some local drivers the potentially lethal medical complications from the abuse of prescription medications; lives have been saved with this verdict” stated City of Kerrville Interim Chief of Police David Knight.
“A drug dealer in a lab coat is still a drug dealer. Hydrocodone is highly addictive and commonly abused. For that reason, it is now a Schedule II controlled substance and closely monitored by both state and federal agencies. It destroys lives and contributes to the decline of a community. We are fortunate to have both local and federal agencies in our area working together to fight drugs in our community in such a broad fashion,” said Kerr County Assistant DA Lucy Wilke, who was the prosecutor on the case. “Criminal conduct like this is a slap in the face to all the honorable doctors who legitimately treat chronic pain.”
This joint law enforcement investigation was led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration San Antonio Office, Kerrville Police (KPD), Kerr County Sherriff’s Office, FBI, and Office of The Attorney General, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. This case was prosecuted by Kerr County Assistant DA Lucy Wilke.