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Man gets 3 years for pushing pain pills at Maryland clinic

August 26, 2021 GMT

BALTIMORE (AP) — A physician’s assistant at a pain management clinic in Maryland has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for pushing highly-addictive opioid medication in a case linked to a bribery and kickback scheme that helped fuel the country’s opioid crisis, officials said Thursday.

William Soyke was sentenced in a conspiracy to distribute and dispense oxycodone, fentanyl and other highly-addictive medications outside the scope of professional practice and for no legitimate medical purpose. He worked at a clinic in Baltimore County, a suburban area ringing Baltimore, Maryland’s biggest city.

Prosecutors said the 68-year-old of Hanover, Pennsylvania, also admitted engaging in sexual contact with female patients who were attempting to get prescriptions. Soyke asked some female clients to bend over so he could test their range of motion. He would then position himself behind them so his crotch would rub against the customers’ bodies through their clothes, according to prosecutors.

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“These patients often acceded to this sexual abuse for fear of not getting the medications to which they were addicted,” said a Thursday statement from the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.

About two months ago, Howard J. Hoffberg, a 65-year-old who was the associate medical director and part-owner of Rosen-Hoffberg Rehabilitation and Pain Management where Soyke was an employee, pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks to prescribe pain medication.

Prosecutors say their crimes are linked to a racketeering case against an Arizona pharmaceutical company whose founder last year was ordered to spend 5 1/2 years in prison for orchestrating a scheme that helped fuel the opioid crisis. They allege Hoffberg took money from Insys Therapeutics between 2012 to 2018 to prescribe a highly-addictive oral fentanyl spray called Subsys.

John Kapoor, the founder of Insys Therapeutics, was sentenced last year in Boston’s federal court after a jury found him guilty of racketeering conspiracy. Kapoor and others were accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes to doctors across the United States to prescribe the company’s fentanyl spray.

Roughly 2,500 Maryland residents died of opioid-related overdoses in 2020. State officials say that’s the most on record.