DEA executes search warrant on doctor’s office

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Law enforcement officers from Northern Nevada executed a search warrant at a local doctor’s office Thursday morning because of an ongoing investigation looking into overprescribed controlled substances.

The Drug Enforcement Agency — along with the FBI, officers from Reno and Washoe and Churchill counties, Nevada Department of Investigations, Health and Human Services and several medical boards — entered the offices of Dr. Gary Ridenour at 2152 Reno Highway, Suite 1 shortly after its 7 a.m. opening. Derek C. Braddix is a nurse practitioner specialist with the practice.

Ridenour’s website said he’s been a family medical doctor for more than 30 years. A sign on the door indicated the clinic would see patients this week.

Marc Kuzmicki, resident in charge of the Reno DEA office, said patients were milling about in the office still trying to get prescriptions. He said officers causally entered the building but still took precautions not knowing if there were weapons in the office. He said the patients were very cooperative. Kuzmicki also said the DEA knew Ridenour wouldn’t be at his office on that day.

According to Kuzmicki, agents executed search warrants in Nevada, Southern California and Hawaii and gathered evidence of overprescribed medication. In addition to Ridenour’s office, Kuzmicki said officers would be searching Ridenour’s home.

“It’s been an ongoing case for a year,” he said of Thursday’s search. “Overall, we’re focusing on practitioners whether they’re doctors, nurse practitioners, veterinarians, dentists, anyone who has access to controlled substances that can be prescribed (and) that we suspect are grossly overprescribed.”

In addition to Fallon, Kuzmicki said several search warrants were also executed Thursday in Las Vegas. According to Kuzmicki, “Operation Hypocritical Oath” focused on medical professionals who illegally prescribed and dispensed pharmaceutical drugs in the three states.

The DEA, though, said seven DEA registrants who were authorized to describe narcotics surrendered or had their ability to prescribe the controlled substances suspended. Kuzmicki said he couldn’t comment on any charges, names of physicians who had their DEA authorizations pulled or individuals possessing weapons. He said those details will come from the U.S. Attorney in Reno who will release the information after he reviews it. Kuzmicki, though, said it’s not unusual for the DEA and other agencies to execute a search warrant on a doctor’s office in a small town.

“A lot of times you’ll have patients coming from various areas outside of whatever area,” he said, referring to previous cases. “People will come from hours away when other doctors were closer to them. They know a certain doctor would be able to prescribe them medication.”

As a result of the raids in Nevada, the DEA said agents rounded up nine firearms and several rounds of ammunition in addition to about $35,000.

This search follows Walmart’s decision on May 25, 2018, not to honor prescriptions written by Ridenour. In a letter sent to Ridenour, Walmart said, “In our efforts to meet our compliance obligations... and to help combat prescription drug abuse and diversion, we routinely review the prescribing patterns and practices of the prescribers whose prescriptions are presented to us for filling... we will not be able to continue filling your controlled substance prescriptions.”

The Walmart letter cited controlled substances II-V, which includes hydromorphone (Dilaudid), methadone (Dolophine), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), and fentanyl (Sublimaze, Duragesic, morphine, opium, codeine, alprazolam (Xanax), carisoprodol (Soma), clonazepam (Klonopin), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), midazolam (Versed), temazepam (Restoril) and triazolam (Halcion).


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