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Munster doctor indicted on allegations he over-prescribed painkillers
HAMMOND — A doctor practicing in Munster was indicted Monday on allegations he over-prescribed hydrocodone and even had his staff dispense pills to patients while he vacationed in Greece.
Tuesday's announcement by Thomas Kirsch II, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, comes as the Region grapples with an increasingly fatal opioid epidemic.
Dr. Jay Joshi, a Burr Ridge, Illinois, man who worked as a general practice physician at Prestige Clinic in Munster, was indicted Monday on four counts of dispensing hydrocodone “not prescribed for a legitimate medical purpose, and outside the scope of professional practice,” federal court records show.
Kirsch said Tuesday investigators found Joshi issued more than 6,000 prescriptions for controlled substances since April after obtaining data from INSPECT, the state’s prescription monitoring program.
Joshi ranks No. 1 in Lake County and ninth statewide in the number of prescriptions written for controlled substances by DEA registered prescribers, Kirsch said.
“On four separate occasions, Dr. Joshi prescribed controlled substance hydrocodone, which is commonly known as Norco, to an undercover government agent,” Kirsch said. “He did so without conducting appropriate and sometimes even cursory medical examinations.”
In one case, the government agent asked for some Norco for his girlfriend, and Dr. Joshi allegedly prescribed six extra tablets, Kirsch said.
Joshi saw as many as 30 to 40 patients per day, signed prescriptions prior to office visits, and instructed staff to complete prescriptions while he vacationed in Greece, Kirsch added. Some local pharmacies refused to fill prescriptions from Dr. Joshi, he said.
Joshi allegedly prescribed 60 hydrocodone tablets to a patient at four consecutive monthly visits from July to November 2017.
Joshi previously worked a year and a half at a Portage doctor’s office, according to Times archives.
Kirsch said he self-surrendered this week and later bonded out. As part of his bond, Joshi is no longer allowed to write prescriptions for any controlled substances.
Kirsch said while Joshi is the center of this investigation, the investigation into over-prescribing doctors in Northwest Indiana is "always ongoing."
"We're always concerned about other doctors that are doing this and we hope Dr. Joshi's indictment has some type of deterrent effect," he said.
Black ice wreaks havoc during morning commute; Whiting man seriously hurt
Freezing drizzle turned many Northwest Indiana roads into ribbons of ice early Wednesday, causing numerous crashes and leaving a Whiting man with serious injuries.
Eric Anthony, 47, was pinned between a 2006 Ford van and a 2013 Ford Focus after a crash about 6:40 a.m. on the ramp from southbound Calumet Avenue to eastbound Interstate 80/94, Indiana Police said.
Anthony's van went off the road and hit a barrier wall, coming to rest on the outside shoulder. Anthony got out and was standing behind the van when Michael Daniel, 25, of Griffith, lost control of the Focus and hit the rear of the van.
Esmeralda Ruiz, 20, of Griffith, was driving a 2004 Jeep SUV when she also lost control and hit the Focus, police said.
Anthony was taken to Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus in Gary with a serious leg injury and later transferred to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, police said. Daniel was taken to Community Hospital in Munster, and Ruiz was not injured.
The ramp was closed for several hours for investigation, cleanup and salting. Police said anyone who has been involved in a crash or whose vehicle has become disabled to remain in the car.
Roads may not have looked icy, but conditions were dangerous.
Jack-knifes, rollovers and slide-offs were reported along Interstate 65 — especially in the area of 61st Avenue to U.S. 30 and Crown Point to Jasper County. Delays on I-65 south of the DeMotte/Roselawn exit at Ind. 10 persisted until after noon, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation's TrafficWise website.
Cars could be seen off the road along interstates and on U.S. 30 in Scherervillle, where police responded to several crashes throughout the morning.
Multiple crashes were reported on U.S. 20 and Ind. 39 in LaPorte County, and the eastbound Exit 49 ramp from the Indiana Toll Road was temporarily blocked because of a crash.
Police in Illinois temporarily closed parts of several interstates Wednesday morning because of pileups. A 38-year-old Waukegan man was killed after he lost control of his pickup truck and hit a semitrailer on Interstate 294 in the Burr Ridge area, Illinois State Police said.
Jasper County was under a travel advisory, which means routine travel may be restricted in some areas because of hazardous conditions.
The Indiana Department of Transportation had a full call-out of crews using de-icers and salt, but roads remained slick, according to a Facebook post by the department's Northwest District.
Several schools announced delays and closures.
A winter weather advisory for Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties expired at noon Wednesday.
The freezing drizzle was expected to change to snow flurries late Wednesday morning in Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties, the weather service said. Freezing drizzle and snow could continue in LaPorte County as late as 2 p.m., with a chance of flurries between 2 and 3 p.m.
Wednesday's high temperatures were expected to remain at or near freezing.
Check back at nwi.com for updates to this story.