PA: ‘Pill mill’ doctor abruptly ends trial with guilty plea, faces 15 years in prison

A 64-year-old Northumberland County doctor is facing 15 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to 12 counts of prescribing controlled substances outside the course of professional practice.

Dr. Raymond J. Kraynak, who had offices in Mount Carmel and Shamokin, entered the pleas Thursday in U.S. Middle District Court, stopping his trial in the third week.

Each of the 12 counts is connected with a death. Kraynak acknowledged but did not enter a plea to counts that accused him of prescribing the drugs that killed five of the individuals.

The maximum prison sentence for the 12 counts is 240 years and a $1 million fine. Kraynak has the right to withdraw his guilty plea if Judge Matthew W. Brann imposes a sentence longer than 15 years.
Assistant public defender Thomas A. Thornton said his client decided overnight to plead guilty. He had been offered a plea deal several times during the trial but rejected it, he said.
After all the government’s evidence was in, he came to the realization it was in his best interest to plead guilty, Thornton said. “The government’s evidence was very strong,” he said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Behe was pleased the public had been able to learn during the trial the entire scope of the government’s investigation.
Unlike most guilty pleas hearings, in which the prosecutor summarizes its case against the defendant, Kraynak admitted to the evidence the government had presented to the jury.
That included statistics showing he was the top prescriber in Pennsylvania of oxycodone and hydrocodone in 2014 through 2016 and ranked second in 2017.
Jurors were presented evidence Kraynak, in each year from 2014 through 2017, prescribed between 1.45 million and 1.99 million oxycodone and hydrocodone pills.
“The case was compelling,” Behe said, adding the guilty plea should bring satisfaction to families of the victims, some of whom were in the courtroom. They will have the opportunity to seek restitution.
A key prosecution witness was Dr. Stephen M. Thomas, a recognized pain management specialist from Pittsburgh, who was paid more than $41,000 to work on the case.
He testified Rosalie Carls, 43, of Frackville; Andrew R. Kelley, 48, of Mahanoy City; Debra F. Horan, 56, of Elysburg; Mary Anne Langton, 55, of Mount Carmel, and Catherine Schrantz, 35, of Hellertown, would be alive were it not for Kraynak.
It was Thomas’ opinion, based on a review of Kraynak’s files, that Kraynak did not follow standard medical procedures in writing prescriptions.
In responding to a defense question, Thomas said a doctor’s responsibilities are above those of the pharmacist who fills a prescription and the patient who takes the pills.
Other trial testimony came from patients who described their experiences with Kraynak and from pharmacists who said they stopped filling his prescriptions due to the volume.
Kraynak has been free on bail since his arrest in December 2017 and will remain so until he is sentenced. That date has not yet been set. Kraynak would not comment on his decision to plead guilty.
The state Board of Osteopathic Medicine suspended his license to practice medicine until the criminal charges are resolved and the state Department of Health rescinded his ability to write prescriptions for medical marijuana.
He surrendered his DEA license to dispense controlled substances as a condition of being released on $500,000 unsecured bail.

National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators Federal Tax ID: 52-1660752 / DUNS Number: 073539913

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