Lawyers will make their opening arguments this morning in the federal trial of a former Pittsburgh Steelers team doctor accused of trafficking in steroids and narcotics with a business partner, who pleaded guilty Monday on the eve of trial.
Richard Rydze, 66, a Downtown physician who had been the Steelers’ doctor for two decades until he left in 2007, is accused of 185 counts of distributing painkillers since 2005 and trafficking in human growth hormone and steroids since 2007.
The trial, which has been repeatedly delayed, is expected to last several months.
Dr. Rydze and the business partner, James Hatzimbes of Brentwood, were indicted in 2012 in the steroid and narcotics case and indicted a second time in 2015 on health care fraud charges related to bogus prescriptions for nerve stimulation machines used to treat pain.
Mr. Hatzimbes was set to go on trial for the 2012 case with Dr. Rydze this week but pleaded guilty Monday before U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti to counts of distribution of steroids and growth hormone. He also pleaded guilty in the second case. It was unclear whether he will be a witness against Dr. Rydze, but prosecutors said he scheduled steroid clinics at his businesses for Dr. Rydze and split fees with the doctor that patients paid for prescriptions.
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Cleveland because Dr. Rydze had provided medical exams for the Pittsburgh FBI.
Dr. Rydze served the Steelers for 22 years. But in 2007 the team ended the association following investigations of his purchases of human growth hormone.
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