The following is a press release from the Department of Justice United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds Northern District of California:
A federal jury yesterday convicted former physician Thomas Keller of four counts of distributing controlled substances, including Oxycodone, Carisoprodol and Diazepam, outside the scope of his professional practice and without a legitimate medical need, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Special Agent in Charge Bob P. Beris, FBI San Francisco Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Special Agent in Charge Steven J. Ryan, and the California Department of Justice Division of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse (DMFEA).
Keller, 75, was a Santa Rosa resident and a licensed physician who ran a pain management practice in Santa Rosa when he was indicted on September 27, 2018. At trial, the evidence demonstrated that Keller repeatedly prescribed the opioid oxycodone and other strong, addictive drugs to his patient, A.M., in dosages that far exceeded the usual course of professional practice and was for no legitimate medical need. Trial evidence showed that on December 22, 2016, Keller prescribed Oxycodone, Diazepam, and Carisoprodol at the same time to A.M., knowing she did not need such a dangerous combination of drugs. Evidence also showed that on January 20, 2017, Keller again distributed Diazepam, often called Valium, to A.M., and on February 16, 2017, distributed Oxycodone to A.M., again knowing the distribution of both was outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. Keller was also convicted of distributing Carisoprodol to A.M. on July 10, 2017. Approximately two weeks later, A.M. died of an overdose of Oxycodone and other drugs.
The jury convicted Keller of four counts of distributing drugs outside the scope of professional practice in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), but was unable to reach a verdict on six counts. Of the four counts of conviction, the counts of distributing Oxycodone carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and the counts of distributing Carisoprodol and Diazepam carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Additional fines, restitution, and periods of supervised release may also be ordered at sentencing. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
United States District Judge Vince Chhabria has not yet set a date for a sentencing hearing. Keller remains out of custody pending his sentencing hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristina Green and Ross E. Weingarten are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Pat Mahoney. This case was investigated and prosecuted by member agencies of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a focused multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force investigating and prosecuting the most significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.