- Hannah Winston Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
A 73-year-old doctor who was arrested in April for prescribing pain killers for cash and whose medical license suspended in October was arrested again this week, according to authorities.
Peter Katz, who practices family medicine in Boynton Beach, was arrested Wednesday on charges of unlawful prescription and fraud, among others. The arrest comes after the Florida Department of Health issued an emergency suspension of his license in October and another arrest in April for the unlawful prescription of a controlled substance.
According to Department of Health documents, four of Katz’s patients died of overdoses in his care during as two-year period.
Investigators said Katz was providing prescriptions for urine analysis for sober-home patients. Some sober homes have their recovering clients submit to expensive urine testing so that they are reimbursed from health-insurance companies and make a profit. The practice known as “patient brokering” — in which drug-treatment centers pay sober homes to steer patients to them — has garnered dozens of arrests since 2016 on the local, state and federal levels in an effort overhaul of South Florida’s addiction-treatment industry.
The Palm Beach Post exposed the industry’s in the investigative special section “Heroin: Killer of a Generation.” Stories profiled those who lost their lives to heroin-related overdoses and the industry on a whole.
Katz admitted to providing the prescriptions for $40 cash per patient to the sober-home managers, although he does not treat the patients. He said he does not own a sober home but has been working with them for years.
On Aug. 7, investigators went undercover to try to obtain those prescriptions. While there, Katz allegedly talked about his pending criminal case to the undercover agent and said he didn’t think there was anything wrong with him giving these prescriptions to the sober-home residents.
Then on Aug. 10, investigators went undercover again as a sober-home manager and a recovery patient. According to the report, Katz gave the agent prescriptions before a short exam — having the undercover agent stick out his tongue, inhale and exhale, and “briefly glanced at his arms.”
Agents again went to Katz’s office on other days and conducted the same undercover operation: pose as sober-home managers and patients and obtain prescriptions for urine-analysis tests and other prescription drugs, according to the report.
Investigators also discovered that between February 2015 and February 2016, Katz wrote thousands of prescriptions for controlled substances like hydrocodone and oxycodone. For hydrocodone, he wrote 524 prescriptions resulting in 24,392 tablets. The report does not state if those were fraudulent prescriptions or all prescriptions combined in that time frame.
When his license was suspended in October, authorities said Katz’s practice as a medical doctor “constitutes an immediate, serious danger to the health, safety or welfare” of the public, according to Department of Health documents.
In April, investigators said Katz was selling pain medication for cash from his home and after hours at his Boynton Beach office without examinations.
The DEA issued a statement after Katz’s arrest, saying it was “unconscionable” that a doctor authorized to prescribe drugs to wean addicts off opioids “would be part of the problem and not the solution.”