Gonzalo Flores Ruiz, 47, is licensed by the state and practiced medicine at the Central Valley Occupational Medical Group, 4100 Truxtun Ave. in Bakersfield, federal prosecutors said.
Between April 2009 and last month, Ruiz prescribed and distributed the painkiller hydrocodone for no legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice, according to claims made in a 21-count indictment.
Hydrocodone is an addictive prescription narcotic, the abuse of which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Hydrocodone is sold generically or under a variety of brand names, including Vicodin, Vicoprofen, Lortab, Lorcet and Norco.
This case is the product of a joint investigation by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, California Department of Health Care Services Investigations and the Medical Board of California.
If convicted, Ruiz faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison for each of the 21 counts.