HAMMOND — A Munster doctor indicted earlier this year for over-prescribing painkillers to patients entered a guilty plea Tuesday in U.S. District Court, possibly avoiding trial by jury.
Dr. Jay K. Joshi, a Burr Ridge, Illinois, man who worked as a general practice physician at Prestige Clinic in Munster, was indicted Jan. 18 on four counts of dispensing hydrocodone “not prescribed for a legitimate medical purpose, and outside the scope of professional practice," court records show.
At the time, it was revealed Joshi allegedly issued more than 6,000 prescriptions for controlled substances since April. Investigators uncovered this after obtaining data from INSPECT, the state’s prescription monitoring program, according to an indictment in the case.
Joshi had ranked No. 1 in Lake County and ninth statewide in the number of prescriptions written for controlled substances by DEA registered prescribers, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Indiana.
Under the terms of the plea agreement Joshi has proposed, he would admit guilty to one count of distribution, and in exchange, prosecutors would drop the other three counts, court records show.
According to the original indictment, Joshi allegedly prescribed hydrocodone to an undercover agent on four separate occasions and even instructed staff to complete prescriptions while he vacationed in Greece.
Joshi saw as many as 30 to 40 patients per day, signed prescriptions prior to office visits, and some local pharmacies refused to fill prescriptions from Joshi, according to the USA's office. Joshi previously worked a year and a half at a Portage doctor’s office, according to Times archives.
When he was released on bond earlier this year, the court ordered that Joshi no longer be allowed to write prescriptions for controlled substances. His travel had been restricted to the Northern Districts of Illinois and Indiana.
He faces a maximum of 20 years and $1 million in fines.