A Manhattan physician was indicted Wednesday by a Topeka grand jury on charges of unlawfully distributing prescription drugs.
Michael Schuster, 53, who operates Manhattan Pain and Spine, is charged with four counts: One count of conspiracy to illegally distribute controlled substances, one count of unlawful distribution of controlled substances, one count of unlawfully distributing controlled substances to a person under 21 years old and one count of maintaining a premises in furtherance of unlawful drug distribution, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Federal authorities also say several of his patients overdosed, including an unspecified number of Fort Riley soldiers and soldiers’ family members.
The indictment alleges that Schuster employed unlicensed staff members who distributed controlled substances to patients using Schuster’s signature on prescriptions while he was traveling out of the state or out of the country.
Schuster was out of the office when a total of 540 patients received prescriptions for medications including oxycodone, morphine, hydromorphone, methadone, oxymorphone, tapentadol, fentanyl, amphetamine, methylphenidate, hydrocodone, alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam and zolpidem.
According to an investigator’s affidavit, the investigation began early in 2012 when the Riley County Police Department received reports that Schuster was issuing prescriptions for high dosages of scheduled drugs based on minimal or cursory physical examinations.
The indictment returned Wednesday states that controlled substances may be dispensed and distributed lawfully by means of a prescription that is issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a practitioner acting in the usual course of professional practice.
The practitioner must be registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Signing a blank prescription and having unauthorized, unlicensed individuals who are not registered with the DEA distribute controlled substances is not a lawful prescription, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The indictment alleges Schuster routinely pre-signed blank prescription forms with the intent that his unlicensed staff members would use them to issue controlled substances to patients while he was not at the clinic.
Count two of the indictment alleges Schuster caused unlicensed staff using blank prescriptions to distribute controlled substances while he was out of the clinic at various locations including Russia, South Africa, Uruguay, Canada, New York, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Israel.
Count three alleges that on June 16, 2010, Schuster caused oxycodone to be distributed to a person under the age of 21, who is identified in the indictment as Rex V.
Count four alleges that from April 2007 to August 2012 Schuster knowingly maintained his Manhattan office for the purpose of unlawfully distributing controlled substances.