The Churchill County Sheriff’s Office arrested longtime Fallon physician Dr. Gary Ridenour last week on two warrants, said Sheriff Richard Hickox.
The two charges are open and gross lewdness, battery and preventing or dissuading from testifying or producing evidence. The charges stem from an incident that occurred in his office in July 2019.
Hickox said it took almost one year to receive the results of DNA testing from the state. Ridenour was held on $6,000 bail at the Churchill County Detention Center. Hickox said Ridenour was released on his own recognizance by Justice Court, but the warrants are not connected to the DEA drug bust from February 2019.
Ridenour was also arrested in late August 2019 on a federal indictment after a search warrant was served on his Fallon office, which has since closed. He appeared in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Carla Baldwin Carry.
Law enforcement officers from Northern Nevada executed a search warrant in February 2019 because of an ongoing investigation looking into overprescribed controlled substances. Investigators also charged his nurse practitioner, Derek Braddix, with nine counts.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Reno, Ridenour and Braddix, who now lives in Missouri, were charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises. In addition, Ridenour was charged with six counts of distribution of schedule II, III, IV substances hydrocodone, Tylenol with codeine, and alprazolam. Braddix was charged with four counts of distribution of Hydrocodone and three counts of distribution of Alprazolam.
As alleged in the indictment, the U.S. Attorney’s office stated “from 2016 to February 2019, Dr. Ridenour and Braddix conspired to prescribe and did prescribe Hydrocodone, Tylenol with Codeine, Alprazolam, and Carisoprodol, all without a legitimate medical purpose and not in the usual course of professional practice. Furthermore, they maintained a medical practice along Reno Highway in Fallon, Nevada when they unlawfully prescribed these substances.”
In an unrelated indictment, the U.S. Attorney’s office also stated the Fallon doctor was charged for unlawful possession of a .22 caliber rifle, a .17 caliber rifle, a .45 caliber pistol, and a 7.62 caliber rifle after having a prior felony conviction in Nevada.
Ridenour pleaded not guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm charge and to charges related to over prescribing narcotics.
At the time of the February 2019 raid on Ridenour's office, Marc Kuzmicki, resident in charge of the Reno DEA office, said agents also executed search warrants in Nevada, Southern California and Hawaii to gather evidence of overprescribed medication. Kuzmicki said officers searched Ridenour’s home.
“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,” Kuzmicki said.
The 2019 search followed 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).