WeHo Pill Mill doc pleads guilty
Dr. Nathan Kuemmerle, accused of writing thousands of prescriptions for narcotics and pain relievers without examining patients who paid cash, pleaded guilty Wednesday to the charges.
Mr. Kuemmerle agreed to plea guilty to one count of distributing a controlled substance without a legitimate medical purpose.
Special agents with the DEA and officers with the Redondo Beach Police Department arrested Dr. Kuemmerle and his office manager, Antonie Phillips, last April.
Mr. Phillips pleaded guilty to one drug conspiracy charge; he faces sentencing also.
The United States' Attorney's office alleges that Dr. Kuemmerle and Mr. Phillips conspired to distribute controlled substances by writing thousands of prescriptions for highly addictive drugs for "patients" Dr. Kuemmerle did not examine and who simply paid cash for the prescriptions.
The scheme was carried out in the doctor's 8235 Santa Monica office in West Hollywood beginning in 2006 and continuing through late November 2009.
Prosecutors found that Dr. Kuemmerle wrote 14,529 prescriptions for a variety of controlled substances, averaging 15 prescriptions during his normal five-hour workday, according to the report by Dr. Steven Ornish, associate clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.
"Dr. Kuemmerle's professional conduct has been egregious, grossly negligent, flagrantly incompetent, and dangerous, and this is not a close call," Dr. Ornish wrote in the prosecution's report.
Dr. Kuemmerle could face up to five years in federal prison.
No sentencing date has been set.