A Las Vegas physician has been indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of unlawfully prescribing large quantities of oxycodone and other addictive prescription drugs.
Victor Bruce, 48, was arrested Friday on a single count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
He pleaded not guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Koppe late in the day and was ordered released on his own recognizance on the condition he surrender his passport and any weapons in his possession and stop prescribing painkillers and other controlled substances while he awaits trial.
Koppe set a Feb. 10 trial date.
Bruce represented himself to be a specialist in pain management, according to federal prosecutors. He maintained a licensed medical practice at Swan Lake Medical Center, 3330 S. Hualapai Way.
In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Crane Pomerantz called Bruce’s conduct “egregious,” alleging he worked directly with a street-level drug dealer to distribute the painkillers across the county.
According to Pomerantz, the physician created “ghost files” of patients, prescribed the painkillers under the phony names and then sold the prescriptions to the drug dealer, who distributed the painkillers.
“There were no legitimate prescriptions leaving his practice,” Pomerantz told Koppe.
Defense lawyer Craig Drummond disagreed, arguing he was prepared to show that Bruce had a number of legitimate patients.
Pomerantz said Bruce and the drug dealer were unlawfully distributing thousands of oxycodone and other painkilling pills a week. The drug dealer, who was not identified, has been arrested on a criminal complaint, but not charged in an indictment, Pomereatnz said.
Since the summer of 2012, undercover drug agents made several secretly recorded street buys in the investigation, and eventually raided Bruce’s medical practice obtaining evidence of those buys, Pomerantz said.
In a statement released after Bruce’s arrest, Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said:
“Our office will continue working aggressively with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to attack the growing problem of prescription drug abuse.
“Our federal and local law enforcement partners will continue to prioritize these unlawful prescription drug distribution cases and continue working to shut down dangerous unlawful ‘pill mill’ operations.”
Federal drug agents and police officers with several law enforcement agencies, including the Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas police departments, all were involved in the investigation as part of an ongoing joint task force. IRS-Criminal Investigation in Las Vegas and the Nevada Division of Investigations also participated.
If convicted, Bruce faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
Contact reporter Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135. Follow him on Twitter @JGermanRJ.