BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Gonzalo Flores Ruiz, 48, a doctor licensed by the State of California and who practiced medicine at the Central Valley Occupational Medical Group in Bakersfield, pleaded guilty on Monday to distributing a controlled substance, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, between April 2009 and October 2011, Ruiz prescribed and distributed the painkiller hydrocodone for no legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice.
Hydrocodone is an addictive prescription narcotic, the abuse of which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Hydrocodone is sold generically or under a variety of brand names, including Vicodin, Vicoprofen, Lortab, Lorcet, and Norco.
Ruiz is scheduled for sentencing on December 3, 2012 before Chief U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
This case is the product of a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the California Department of Health Care Services Investigations, and the Medical Board of California. Assistant United States Attorney Laurel J. Montoya is prosecuting the case.