Montgomery, Alabama – On Friday, October 16, 2020, a former Montgomery, Alabama physician, Richard A. Stehl, 60, received a 15-year prison sentence, announced United States Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr., DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sean Stephen, HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson, and Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners Executive Director William Perkins. The sentence follows Stehl’s December 2019 conviction on 94 counts of unlawfully distributing controlled substances, 2 counts of health care fraud, and 5 counts of money laundering.
The trial evidence showed that, from 2010 through 2018, Stehl operated a medical practice, Healthcare on Demand. For most of that time, the practice was located at 201 Winton M. Blount Loop in Montgomery—just off of Taylor Road. At his practice, Stehl prescribed addictive controlled substances—including hydrocodone cough syrup, Adderall, Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan—despite knowing no legitimate medical purposes existed to support these prescriptions.
During the trial, the jury heard from ten of Stehl’s former patients. Each patient received multiple controlled substances prescriptions from Stehl. Several of the patients either developed addictions while seeing Stehl or had existing addictions worsened as a result of the supposed medical treatment Stehl provided. One patient stated that she would wait four hours to see Stehl and, by the time she made it to the examination room, she would demand that Stehl give her a prescription and let her leave—which he would then do. Another described driving in excess of four hours to see Stehl because she knew that Stehl would give her the drugs that she wanted. A third patient stated that Stehl gave her routine steroid injections—even though she reported to Stehl that she was allergic to steroids. After receiving several injections from Stehl, this patient wound up in the hospital.
At the sentencing hearing, United States District Judge Terry F. Moorer emphasized the harm that Stehl inflicted upon his patients, the fact that he prioritized profit over patient care, and Stehl’s complete lack of remorse as grounds for imposing the 15-year sentence.
“The criminal conduct that occurred under the guise of Stehl’s medical practice was appalling,” stated United States Attorney Franklin. “Stehl caused his patients to become addicted to powerful controlled substances all in the name of profit. In doing so, he inflicted immeasurable harm in the lives of his patients and his patients’ loved ones. The significant sentence imposed in this case reflects a just reward for Stehl’s drug dealing.”
“Stehl was the kingpin of taking advantage of vulnerable victims and prescribing them unnecessary prescriptions,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Now, like others who steal from government health programs, he is paying a heavy price for his crimes. Along with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to root out individuals who continually steal health care monies by taking advantage of patients and not giving them the care entrusted by a doctor.”
“Dr. Stehl’s substantial sentence reflects the tremendous harm that physicians can cause when they violate their oath to help others,” said William Perkins, Executive Director of the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners. “The Board remains committed to doing its part along with state and federal authorities to stop the overprescribing of controlled substances.”
The Drug Enforcement Agency and Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General investigated this case. They were aided by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division. Additionally, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Millbrook Police Department, the Opelika Police Department, the Montgomery Police Department, the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, and the United States Marshals Service all assisted in the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan S. Ross, Alice LaCour, and Megan Kirkpatrick prosecuted the case.