Arlington Doctor Who Illegally Flooded Region with Oxycodone Sentenced to 10 Years

Arlington Doctor Who Illegally Flooded Region with Oxycodone Sentenced to 10 Years

An Arlington woman convicted of illegally prescribing and distributing over a million oxycodone pills was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Kirsten Van Steenberg Ball, 69, was a primary care physician who operated a medical practice out of her home in Arlington.

Ball directed her office manager, Candie Marie Calix, 42, of Front Royal, to recruit other individuals - including several of Calix’s immediate family members - to become pain patients of Dr. Ball’s so that she could prescribe large quantities of oxycodone to them. Calix, in turn, then sold the tens of thousands of oxycodone pills that Ball prescribed to them. Calix was herself a patient of Ball. Ball prescribed Calix approximately 50,000 oxycodone pills over 10 years.

It was common for Ball to prescribe her patients as many as 360 oxycodone 30-mg pills per month, although she would split the prescriptions into two 180-pill prescriptions to try to disguise the amount. Ball continued to prescribe oxycodone to patients showing blatant signs of drug dependence, abuse, diversion, and addiction; to patients that had been arrested and convicted for selling illegal drugs; and to patients who asked for early refills of oxycodone based on unsubstantiated claims of lost or stolen pills.

The government’s investigation identified three of Ball’s former patients who died of drug overdoses. Ball consistently overprescribed oxycodone to these patients and ignored signs of drug abuse, fueling their addictions.

For example, Ball concurrently prescribed a patient from Fauquier County large doses of both oxycodone and benzodiazepines, which when prescribed in combination with opioids significantly increases the risk of overdose. Ball repeatedly documented in the patient’s chart that the patient was overusing or abusing her medication and had even been admitted to the local emergency room for a likely drug overdose, yet Ball continued to prescribe oxycodone to her. On July 22, 2016, Ball prescribed 240 oxycodone 30-mg pills.  A few weeks later, the patient was found dead in her home of an oxycodone overdose.

In 2015, at the same time Ball was under investigation by state regulatory authorities, Ball discharged a patient whom she knew was overusing his medication. Rather than referring the patient to a substance abuse clinic or another medical provider, Ball prescribed a total of 500 oxycodone 30-mg tablets, along with 90 diazepam 10-mg tablets, and 60 methadone 10-mg tablets, for the month of June 2015, even though she knew this was a dangerous combination of drugs. On July 14, 2015, Ball issued a final prescription to the patient for another 160 oxycodone 30-mg pills. In August 2015, the patient died of a drug overdose in his home. The Medical Examiner’s report noted a “toxic level of oxycodone.”

While under investigation by the Virginia Department of Health Professions (DHP) in 2014 and 2015, and again in 2021, Ball falsified records that she submitted to DHP to cover up the fact that she was prescribing oxycodone to patients for no legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice. Following the first DHP investigation, Ball directed Calix to use a false name in her capacity as office manager to hide the fact that Calix was receiving oxycodone from Ball.

The FBI introduced an undercover law enforcement officer purporting to be the nephew of an existing patient. In recorded conversations, the undercover told Ball that he was sharing pills with his family members. In response, Ball told the undercover that was “a felony,” that she would simply not write it down in his patient file, and not to tell anybody else. She continued to prescribe escalating quantities of oxycodone to the undercover.

On Dec. 12, 2023, a federal jury convicted Ball on one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, and 19 counts of distribution of oxycodone. On Sept. 28, 2022, Calix was sentenced to seven years in prison for conspiring to distribute oxycodone.

In addition to the 10-year prison sentence, the Court ordered Ball to forfeit $750,000 and pay an additional $50,000 in community restitution. The community restitution payment, which is the first of its kind in the Eastern District of Virginia, will go to two separate Virginia state entities, including the department tasked with receiving federal funds for substance abuse programs in the state.