Judge sends ‘pill mill’ document to jail; Sentencing continued on the basis of a motion to withdraw the guilty plea

WILLIAMSPORT – The Northumberland County doctor dubbed the ‘pill factory’ doctor is behind bars, though his sentencing has continued.

Matthew W. Brann, US Middle District, ordered Friday that Dr. Raymond J. Kraynak is being jailed pending the appointment of new counsel and a hearing on his motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

Kraynak, 64, was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs after it was determined he posed a flight risk as he is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Kraynak is unlikely to be granted an acquittal or a new trial and the government has not recommended a prison sentence, the judge said.

Brann announced on February 23 that he would serve the 15-year sentence included in the agreement, which led to Kraynak pleading guilty on September 23 after prosecutors rested the third week of his trial.

Two days after that announcement, the Mount Carmel resident himself filed a motion to dismiss his complaints in 12 counts of controlled substance prescriptions outside of professional practice.

His reasons included that he is innocent, was pressured to attend the guilty plea, and public defenders Thomas Thornton and Gerald A. Lord were ineffective.

Brann closed the courtroom except for Thornton and Lord to allow Kraynak to explain why they were ineffective.

When the hearing resumed, the judge announced that he would appoint a new attorney for Kraynak and set a hearing on the motion to withdraw his plea.

Thornton and Lord declined to comment, indicating they no longer represent Kraynak. Brann criticized the doctor, calling his request to withdraw his pleading inappropriate, frivolous, baseless and a “one-way tactic” to avoid a conviction.

He noted that when Kraynak submitted his pleading, he stated he was not pressured, as he now claims.

The allegation that his lawyers failed to provide exculpatory evidence backfires because the guilty plea was filed before the defense had a chance, he said.

Despite his comments on the retraction request, Brann said he will listen to any evidence Kraynak is required to present before deciding whether to grant or deny it.

He has a high standard to overcome, said Assistant US Attorney William Behe, one of the prosecutors.

However, he said the judge did the right thing to give “new eyes” a chance to examine Kraynak’s claims.

Behe called Kraynak’s delaying tactics “despicable” and noted that more than two dozen people in the courtroom were hoping for a closing of the “great swath of misery” he was cutting through the community.

The victims in the 12 counts to which Kraynak pleaded guilty died, but he was not charged in their deaths.

His pleading did not include any charges accusing him of prescribing drugs that killed five people.

Kraynak, who had offices in Shamokin and Mount Carmel, was referred to as the “pill mill doctor” because he had been the leading prescriber of oxycodone and hydrocodone in Pennsylvania.

Evidence was presented to the jury that in the years 2014 through 2017 Kraynak prescribed 1,452,767, 1,994,202, 1,880,223 and 1,433,306 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, respectively.

Pharmacists said they stopped filling his prescriptions because of the volume.

The State Board of Osteopathic Medicine suspended his license to practice medicine and the State Department of Health stripped him of his authority to prescribe medical marijuana.

Kraynak gave up his Drug Enforcement Administration license to supply controlled substances as a condition of being released on $500,000 unsecured bail following his December 2017 arrest.

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