Doctor pleads guilty in Eastern Kentucky drug case

A doctor pleaded guilty Tuesday to taking part in a conspiracy that authorities said funneled hundreds of thousands of pain pills into Eastern Kentucky.

Irving Karten was a contract physician at the Pain Center of Broward, in South Florida, according to a court document.

He was charged in Kentucky because addicts or traffickers from more than a dozen Kentucky counties went to the Florida clinic to get prescriptions, then abused or sold the drugs at home.

The trafficking scheme was based in Clay County, according to court documents.

Karten admitted he ignored a high probability that many people coming to the clinic were seeking prescriptions that were not for a legitimate medical purpose.

Prosecutors agreed as part of the deal not to seek a sentence of more than five years for Karten. The agreement also calls for a $15,000 fine.

Karten, the second doctor to plead guilty in the case, is to be sentenced in May.

Six other people charged in the case, including three doctors, have disputed wrongdoing and are scheduled to go to trial this month.

Authorities charged that the Florida clinic and another in Georgia owned by the same man, Joel Shumrak, were major sources of pills for drug operations in Eastern Kentucky between 2008 and 2014.

Shumrak, who was not a doctor, allegedly grossed $15 million. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison last year and forfeited $7 million to the government.