An Arlington doctor is facing federal charges after a grand jury indicted her for the illicit distribution of opioid pills.
Dr. Kirsten Ball is facing nearly a dozen counts of charges related to oxycodone distribution. Federal prosecutors say she and her office manager, who was convicted and sentenced last year, conspired to dispense “vast quantities of oxycodone to her patients — contrary to ordinary standards of medical care.”
One patient received prescriptions for “as many as 360 oxycodone 30-mg tablets per month,” while another received a prescription to treat “long-term pain” while they were performing “manual labor on Ball’s home,” according to a press release.
The charges potentially could land Ball, 68, in prison for decades. Despite the allegations, reviews of her care on a doctor rating website are generally positive.
“Very caring, affirmative, straight forward yet, gentle approach to health care,” wrote one patient. “If you need a professional physician, with a comforting approach, Dr. Ball is a great choice!”
Arlington has been hard hit by the national opioid crisis. There were more than 70 fatal opioid overdoses here between 2015 and 2020, according to Arlington County Police Department statistics. The crisis has also infiltrated local schools, with the fatal in-school overdose of a Wakefield High School student this year helping to spur action by Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools.
The press release about the indictment is below.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment this week charging an Arlington doctor with distributing tens of thousands of oxycodone pills for almost a decade for no legitimate medical reason.
According to allegations in the indictment, Kirsten Van Steenberg Ball, 68, was a primary care physician who operated a medical practice out of her home in Arlington. Ball allegedly conspired with her office manager to shield the fact that she was dispensing vast quantities of oxycodone to her patients—contrary to ordinary standards of medical care—from law enforcement and regulatory authorities.
The indictment alleges that Ball’s office manager, Candie Marie Calix, 40, of Front Royal, used an alias to disguise the fact that Calix was, herself, a patient of Ball. According to the indictment, Ball allegedly prescribed her office manager approximately 50,000 oxycodone pills over a period of approximately 10 years.
The indictment further alleges that the Virginia Department of Health Professions (DHP) investigated Ball twice: once in 2015 and once in 2021. Despite the two investigations, Ball did not change her prescribing practices. According to the indictment, examples of Ball’s prescriptions include the following:
- Prescribing a patient as many as 360 oxycodone 30-mg tablets per month;
- Prescribing similarly high quantities of oxycodone to close family members;
- Paying a patient to perform manual labor on Ball’s home while concurrently prescribing the patient oxycodone, ostensibly for long-term pain;
- Loaning a patient $40,000 while concurrently prescribing the patient oxycodone;
- Continuing to prescribe oxycodone to patients after they failed drug screens.
Ball is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, and 21 counts of distribution of oxycodone. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Calix was sentenced to seven years in prison on September 28, 2022, for conspiring to distribute oxycodone.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine E. Rumbaugh is prosecuting the case.
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