Doctor sells drug prescription to DEA undercover agent, feds say

Dr. Peter Katz faces criminal charges in Palm Beach County

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – Dr. Peter Katz accepted Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna and Humana health insurance, according to Health Pocket. A Drug Enforcement Administration agent said on Friday that Katz also accepted cash during under-the-table deals. 

Katz signed up to help drug addicts in recovery. But Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputies feared he was doing the opposite. Investigators said they suspected Katz was linked to suspicious overdose deaths.  A woman who was getting treatment for drug addiction died at his home. 

A DEA agent working undercover went to Katz's Boynton Beach office asking for "blues," the slang for oxycodone, an opioid pain medication with a high risk for addiction. Katz allegedly said he had the "wrong [expletive] doctor."  The agent was persistent. 

"I'm not a pill-pushing doctor," Katz, 72, said, according to the report. 

The Florida Department of Health records show Katz has been practicing medicine since 1981. He is allowed to give drug addicts narcotics for maintenance or detoxification treatment.

When he wrote him a prescription for hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen, better known as "norco," Katz thought he was writing a prescription to a man who was willing to pay $100 in cash, according to federal authorities.

"Hydrocodone [is] a little stronger than vicodin," Katz said, according to the report.

The man wasn't a desperate drug addict. He was an undercover DEA agent.

Katz told him to never come back. He allegedly didn't conduct a physical examination and didn't ask the undercover agent  for any form of identification to establish a patient file. The PBSO has been going after rehabilitation facilities that are not helping addicts and are taking advantage of insurance companies. 

Although the incident happened in 2016, deputies arrested Katz on Wednesday. Prosecutors charged him with willingly and unlawfully writing a prescription for hydrocodone/acetaminophen. He was out on a $3,000 bail. 

Anne-Judith Lambert, a DEA special agent and spokeswoman for the Miami division, touted the arrest on Friday night. She released a statement from Adolphus P. Wright, special agent in charge of the DEA Miami Field Division, referring to Katz as an "unscrupulous" doctor. 

"In the midst of the opioid crisis, it is unconscionable that a Drug Addiction Treatment Act-waived physician would be part of the problem and not the solution," Wright said.  

About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.