Pittsburgh-Area Doctor Charged With Unlawfully Distributing Opioids

PITTSBURGH – A suburban Pittsburgh physician has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of conspiracy and unlawfully distributing controlled substances, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced recently.

The indictment of Andrzej Kazimierz Zielke, 62, is the first since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the formation of the Opioid and Abuse Detection Unit, a Department of Justice initiative that uses data to target and prosecute individuals that are contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis.

“Western Pennsylvania is experiencing some of the highest rates of overdose deaths in the nation,” added Acting U.S. Attorney Song. “In response, we in law enforcement aggressively target drug traffickers – both those who distribute on the street, and those who traffic under the guise of physicians writing excessive prescriptions.”

According to the criminal complaint:

Agents began investigating his practice based on information they received that Dr. Zielke was writing a large number of oxycodone prescriptions for people residing in the McKeesport, Pennsylvania area, and that some of these pills were being obtained by a narcotics dealer.

According to accounts of former employees and patients, Dr. Zielke charged approximately $250 cash for office visits and many of his patients traveled long distances to see him.

On October 11, 2017, the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine issued a Temporary Suspension of Dr. Zielke’s license to practice medicine and surgery.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $1 million, or both, for each count of the indictment. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Robert S. Cessar is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.