July 19 — WILLIAMSPORT — The U.S. government filed court documents Monday opposing Raymond Kraynak’s appeal of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision seeking the retraction of a guilty plea on 12 counts of illegal distribution or disposal to support prescription drugs
On June 27, the United States Supreme Court ruled, Ruan v. United States, ruling that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly or intentionally acted in an unauthorized manner.
“His (Kraynak’s) attempt to use Ruan in his favor, while certainly resourceful, fails given the unique circumstances of this case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney William Behe wrote in documents before the United State District Court. Unlike the Ruan defendants, Kraynak pleads guilty to the indictment after hearing all the evidence in the government’s case, and in his guilty plea admitted that he knew his conduct in prescribing drugs was not for legitimate outside medical purposes the charge was in the ordinary course of a profession which (the law) does not allow. Furthermore, the evidence from the trial, both direct and circumstantial, demonstrates Kraynak’s knowledge and intent that his conduct deviated from that professional standard.
US Judge Matthew Brann will hear arguments in Kraynak’s case at 10:00 am on August 3 in Courtroom 1 of the US Courthouse and Federal Building, 240 W. Third St., Williamsport. Kraynak is being held pending conviction or a new trial.
Unlike the Ruan defendants, Kraynak admitted in his guilty plea to knowingly and intentionally distributing controlled substances in an authorized manner, Behe wrote.
The doctors in the Ruan case were convicted at the end of a jury trial in which the Supreme Court found the courts’ instructions to the jury erroneous. Kraynak pleaded guilty so the jury was never given erroneous or other directions, Behe wrote.
Trial evidence showed Kraynak knew his conduct was unauthorized, Behe wrote.
September’s plea came after 10 days of hearings, on the morning the defense was scheduled to begin their case, but Kraynak chose to withdraw his plea and seek new counsel two weeks before the March sentencing.
Federal agents arrested the now-suspended doctor on December 21, 2017. The indictment said Kraynak allegedly prescribed more than six million opioids, including Oxycontin, Vicodin and fentanyl, between May 2012 and July 2017 and was responsible for the deaths of five patients : Rosalie Carls, 43, from Frackville; Andrew R. Kelley, 48, of Mahanoy City; Debra F. Horan, 56, of Elysburg; Mary Anne Langton, 55, of Mount Carmel, and Catherine Schrantz, 35, of Hellertown.
After he pleaded guilty, the remaining charges — five counts of illegal distribution or disposal resulting in death and two counts of maintaining drug-related premises for his Mount Carmel and Shamokin offices — were dropped. While Kraynak pleaded not guilty to illegal distribution or dispensing resulting in death, the former doctor acknowledged that his prescribing practices resulted in the deaths of his patients, according to the pleading.
In addition to Carls, Kelley, Horan, Langton, and Schrantz, seven other patients died: Donna Bynum, 36, of Mount Carmel; Wanda Ebright, 34, of Mount Carmel; Francis Gaughan, 47, of Lost Creek; Randy Wiest, 50, of Coal Township; Faith Herring, 42, from Atlas; Teresa Madonna, 49, from Schuylkill Haven; and Jessica Slaby, 38, of Coal Township. The government has not charged Kraynak with those seven deaths, but all 12 were listed in the indictment in relation to the illegal distribution charge.