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Elko cardiologist pleads guilty to opioid charges

(KOLO)
Published: Dec. 12, 2017 at 11:10 AM PST
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An Elko cardiologist has pleaded guilty to distributing highly-addictive prescription drugs Oxycodone and Hydrocodone to patients without a medical purpose, according to U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson for the District of Nevada.

59-year-old Dr. Devendra I. Patel, AKA Devendrakumar I. Patel, who owns and operates Northeastern Nevada Cardiology, was indicted by a grand jury in December 2017. United States District Judge Larry R. Hicks has accepted the guilty plea.

The investigation showed Patel illegally prescribed opioids and other prescription narcotics to patients for financial gain. As part of his plea, Patel admitted that, between September 2015 and February 2016, he prescribed Oxycodone (such as OxyContin) and Hydrocodone (such as Norco) to patients without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice. The prescriptions were "in direct violation of his duty as a long-term licensed medical doctor," according to Elieson. His license was suspended upon his arrest in December 2017. Patel’s prescribing practices allowed him to see a high volume of patients and easily prescribe and sell the opioids, while "not addressing any legitimate medical concerns of his patients."

Sentencing is scheduled for March 18, 2019. The statutory maximum penalty is 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

According to the

, about 115 Americans die each day of an opioid-related overdose. In 2016, there were 408 opioid-related deaths in Nevada, according to the

.

For information about the effects of illicit drug use, visit

for teens, and

for parents, educators and caregivers.

To report suspected opioid-related crimes, the public is encouraged to

or contact the FBI

.