Feds: Kentucky coroner prescribed painkillers without a legitimate medical purpose

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A former county coroner in Northern Kentucky wrote improper prescriptions for pain drugs to three people, a federal grand jury charged Thursday.

The grand jury indicted Dr. David W. Suetholz on 10 counts of distributing controlled substances “pursuant to prescriptions that were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose.”

Suetholz, 73, of Ludlow, was the elected coroner of Kenton County from June 1991 to June 2021, according to the indictment.

The indictment listed 10 occasions between September 2018 and February 2020 when Suetholz allegedly wrote improper prescriptions for the opioids OxyContin, oxycodone or fentanyl.

Suetholz’s family and friends said in a statement issued Friday that Suetholz had dedicated his life to the well-being of his community, patients and family.

Suetholz warned regulators of the tsunami of opioid addiction years ago and has spent more than 20 years treating patients for addiction, including through a pilot program for people in jail.

“The cruel irony is that the federal government is accusing him of contributing to the opioid epidemic — the very crisis he has dedicated the latter part of his life combating,” the statement said.

Suetholz trusts that he will be vindicated in court, the statement said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Candace J. Smith directed Suetholz to make an initial court appearance on Oct. 27.

The charges have a top sentence of 20 years each.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the Kentucky Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

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