Bloomberg News

Ex-Steelers Doctor Said to Be Target of U.S. Drug Indictment

October 20, 2012

A former Pittsburgh Steelers doctor was indicted on charges that he illegally distributed human growth hormone, anabolic steroids and prescription pain killers.

Richard A. Rydze, 62, a physician and sole owner of Optimal Health Center in Pittsburgh, was charged with two other men in an indictment filed in federal court there on Oct. 17 and unsealed yesterday. The National Football League team isn’t mentioned in the indictment.

“This doctor is accused of using his prescription pad like a personal ATM, doling out steroids, painkillers and other medicine for his own gain,” U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach of Cleveland said in a statement.

Because of doctor-patient relationships Rydze had in Western Pennsylvania, the case is being prosecuted by Dettelbach’s office, he said.

Attorney information for Rydze wasn’t immediately available, a spokesman for Dettelbach, Mike Tobin, said in a telephone interview. A woman answering the phone at Rydze’s office declined to comment on the allegations.

Other Defendants

Also named as defendants are James Hatzimbes, 42, and William Zipf, 56, of Pittsburgh. Only Rydze is named in all 185 counts, which include allegations of health-care fraud, obtaining possession of controlled substances by fraud and deception and obstruction of justice.

Hatzimbes, who prosecutors said owned a wellness center in Pittsburgh, allegedly conspired with Rydze to unlawfully distribute steroids and human growth hormone.

Rydze and Zipf are accused of conspiring to illegally traffick in pain killers as well as health-care fraud.

Zipf’s initial court appearance is set for Nov. 8, Tobin said. Attorney information for him and for Hatzimbes also was not immediately available.

Burt Lauten, a spokesman for the Steelers, declined to comment on the charges and wouldn’t say if Rydze had worked for the team. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to comment.

Rydze’s previous employment with the Steelers was confirmed by a person familiar with the matter who declined to speak on the record because the team isn’t named in the indictment.

The case is U.S. v. Rydze, 12-cr-262, U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh).

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net; Aaron Kuriloff in New York at akuriloff@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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