Tales of guns and drugs spilled like pills out of a toppled prescription bottle Friday when a former opioid addict testified in the federal trial of a 93-year-old doctor, his medical assistant and a local pharmacist.
A Jack in the Box parking lot served as the venue for the first meeting between Dr. Henri Wetselaar and Jason Kutz, the government witness who on Friday outlined the seedy details of his former business partnership with the men standing trial.
The relationship began in the back seat of a Lincoln Continental. Testimony revealed that within months, Wetselaar’s practice had received as much as a five-figure boost from Kutz’s street connections.
Authorities charge that Wetselaar, who turned 93 last week, used the scribble of his prescription pen and a network of well-connected dealers to provide addicts and recreational users large supplies of oxycodone.
Undercover FBI agents posed as pill seekers to gain access to the conspiracy, and they previously testified at trial. But to convince the jury of the scope of the scheme, the government has relied on testimony from admitted drug dealers who were among Wetselaar’s most lucrative clients.
Kutz told jurors he first heard of Wetselaar when he was looking for painkillers to satisfy his daily opioid addiction. At the time, he did not deal drugs. But that changed, he said, after he met Wetselaar and medical assistant David Litwin.
The witness said he recruited 50 to 70 people to pose as patients with complaints of back pain. The patients would visit Wetselaar and Litwin and return to Kutz with prescriptions for powerful opioids. Kutz would take the oxycodone prescriptions and fill them at Lam’s Pharmacy, where defendant Jason Smith was the manager.
“Where did you find these people?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Duncan asked.
“They were just lowlifes,” Kutz said. “Word-of-mouth, I guess, people who needed money.”
“Were they all injured or in pain?” the prosecutor asked.
“So they said.”
“Who instructed them to say that?”
“I did,” Kutz said.
Kutz said he would give the patients either $100 or some of the medication as compensation. He sold the rest of the drugs on the street and earned $7,000 to $10,000 a week.
Wetselaar charged $300 or $400 a visit, depending on the potency of the painkiller, Kutz testified.
The witness also admitted to purchasing guns for Litwin and Smith, as business boomed and safety concerns arose.
Kutz was indicted in 2010 for his involvement in the drug ring. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, and defense attorneys highlighted his criminal history Friday in an attempt to attack his credibility. The line of questioning at one point led U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson to accuse lawyers of “misleading the jury” about the degree to which Kutz’s plea agreement affected his testimony at trial.
Defense attorneys hammered Kutz’s failure to remember other doctors from whom he previously obtained oxycodone prescriptions.
“With regards to Dr. Wetselaar and David Litwin, is it fair to say your memory is much more specific?” defense attorney Jonathan Powell, who represents Litwin, asked.
“It’s embedded more in my mind, yes, because I did five years in prison for the time that I spent with them,” Kutz said.
Contact Jenny Wilson at email@example.com or 702-384-8710. Follow @jennydwilson on Twitter.