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Former ECMC doctor, four others, accused of fraudulent prescription activities

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Posted at 11:47 AM, Dec 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-22 11:49:33-05

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — A former ECMC doctor and four others have been charged with illegally distributing controlled substances according to U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr.

The five individuals that have been charged are:

• Dr. James T. Keefe, 38, of Florida;

• Benjamin Rivera, 40, of Buffalo, NY;

• Laura Ricotta, 27, of Williamsville, NY;

• Takeya Rainey, 43, of Buffalo, NY;

• Phousavath Luangrath, 29, of Buffalo, NY.

They have been charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and distribution of, oxycodone, hydrocodone, amphetamine, and buprenorphine (Schedule II controlled substances) and carisoprodol, alprazolam, phentermine, tramadol, and zolpidem tartrate (Schedule IV controlled substances).

Officials say in February 2018 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began investigating Keefe, during the investigation Keefe admitted to law enforcment that he was an active user of cocaine, adderall, and prescription opiates, and to writing false prescriptions to some "friends," and sharing the prescriptions.

Dr. Keefe's arrest came in the same week that Dr. Torin Finver was arrested for having heroine and cocaine shipped to his Hamburg home.

“For the second time this week, a medical professional with an addiction problem has found himself on the wrong side of the law,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “Where, as here, a physician ignores his Hippocratic Oath to ‘do no harm,’ but instead sells out his medical license for personal or financial gain, my Office will do all that we can to see that strong consequences follow.”

According to officials, Keefe issued 178 fraudulent prescriptions totaling 9,718 dosage units.

Ricotta was issued 15 of those prescriptions, Rainey 14, Luangrath 10, and Rivera seven.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.