SAN FRANCISCO – On November 3, 2022, a federal jury 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.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), FBI, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), and the California Department of Justice Division of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse (DMFEA).
“It is important that law enforcement investigate illegal prescriptions as these potent painkillers can be extremely addictive and addiction can lead to harm to people and a community. By combining resources on the state and federal level, investigators are better equipped to see their cases through to a successful prosecution,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.
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 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.
A date for a sentencing hearing has not yet been set. Keller remains out of custody pending his sentencing hearing.