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Virginia doctor Kirsten Ball indicted on distributing oxycodone charges


A primary care doctor in Virginia is facing charges of illegally distributing tens of thousands of oxycodone pills without any medical reason in a scheme with her office manager, prosecutors said.

Kirsten Van Steenberg Ball, 68, operated a medical practice out of her home in Arlington, Virginia, a suburb of the nation’s capital. Over the course of a decade, Ball allegedly prescribed her office manager, Candie Marie Calix, about 50,000 oxycodone pills under an alias to disguise that Calix was also a patient. 

A federal grand jury indicted Ball on one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and 21 counts of distribution of oxycodone, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced Friday. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

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Doctor previously investigated, reprimanded

Ball was previously investigated by the Virginia Department of Health Professions, records show.

A 2015 consent order reprimanding Ball claimed she did not follow appropriate procedures to screen patients for physical pain before prescribing controlled narcotic medications. Some of her patients were receiving narcotic prescriptions from multiple physicians at one time, the order said. She also continued to prescribe these substances when patients failed drug screens or did not screen patients to see if they were taking medications as prescribed.

“Dr. Ball admitted that on three occasions… she wrote prescriptions for oxycodone for Patient A in excess of what he should have received due to her own mathematical oversight,” the consent order says.

The indictment alleges Ball prescribed one patient up to 360 30-mg oxycodone tablets per month and gave similarly high-dose prescriptions to her own family members, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

“Despite the two investigations, Ball did not change her prescribing practices,” the statement said.

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Office manager was ringleader of drug network

Calix, Ball’s office manager, pleaded guilty to being the ringleader of  an oxycodone distribution network last June and was sentenced to seven years in prison. According to prosecutors, Calix would “recruit” people, including her family members, to act as patients and receive oxycodone prescriptions. The “patients” would kick pills back to Calix, who would then sell them.

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“Calix and her co-conspirators used coded language to refer to the pills they distributed, for example, referring to oxycodone 30-mg pills as ‘tickets,’ ‘blueberries,’ or ‘muffins,'” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a statement last year. “The co-conspirators typically sold oxycodone 30-mg pills at a cost of $25 per pill, and over the course of the conspiracy, generated at least $5,000 per month in profits.”

Two of Calix’s co-conspirators also pleaded guilty, the statement said.

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