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DEA raids Newburyport office of Dr. Keith Ablow, controversial psychiatrist who settled malpractice lawsuits

Keith Ablow, pictured in a 2009 file photo.
Keith Ablow, pictured in a 2009 file photo.CJ Gunther/Pool, European Pressphoto Agency via AP

The Drug Enforcement Administration on Thursday raided the Newburyport office of Dr. Keith R. Ablow, a controversial psychiatrist whose medical license was suspended last year after state regulators alleged he drew three female patients into sexual relationships and improperly prescribed medications, including addictive narcotics, to eight people who worked for him.

Investigators searched Ablow’s office on Water Street as part of an "ongoing investigation” said Special Agent Timothy Desmond, a DEA spokesman. He declined to provide details about the investigation or describe what was seized from the building where Ablow operated Baystate Psychiatry until last May when the state suspended his medical license.

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Ablow, 58, wasn’t taken into custody and hasn’t been charged with a crime, Desmond said. He referred further questions to federal prosecutors, who declined to comment.

A lawyer for Ablow didn’t return messages seeking comment. Telephones messages and e-mails left with Ablow’s office weren’t immediately returned.

In suspending Ablow’s medical license last May, the Board of Registration in Medicine alleged he had been improperly prescribing medications to his office staff for years and sometimes asked the workers to share the drugs with him.

The DEA regulates some of the drugs Ablow was accused of prescribing to his staff and he was registered with the federal agency to prescribe them, state records show. Ablow’s authority to prescribe controlled substances regulated by the DEA was rescinded when Massachusetts suspended his medical license.

In one instance cited by state regulators, Ablow allegedly wrote 37 prescriptions between 2010 and 2015 for a woman who began working for him as an intern and later assumed the roles of executive assistant and office manager.

Ablow prescribed Adderall for the woman 27 times and asked her to save some of the pills for him, according to the state medical board.

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Adderall, a treatment for narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is regulated by the DEA as a controlled substance that is considered to have a "high potential for abuse with severe psychological or physical dependence.”

The state also accused Ablow of prescribing Adderall and Clonazepam, a controlled narcotic, to another former employee with whom he had a romantic relationship. Ablow wrote the prescriptions between 2013 and 2015. The woman stopped working for Ablow in January 2016, the state said.

In another allegation, the state said Ablow stopped using the Prescription Monitoring Program in December 2016, the system run by Massachusetts to track prescriptions written for controlled substances, including narcotics, stimulants, and sedatives. Ablow didn’t consult that system, the state said, before prescribing medications for the five patients and eight employees described in the complaint filed against him by the medical board.

Ablow is fighting his license suspension. A hearing in his case is set for April 7, the state said.

The three female patients who accused Ablow of sexual misconduct also sued him in state court. Last June, Ablow reached out-of-court settlements. The terms weren’t disclosed.

In their lawsuits, the women said they traveled from out of state to be treated by Ablow in Newburyport, where their relationships eventually turned sexual. While under Ablow’s care, all three said they received infusions of the anesthetic Ketamine to treat depression.

During some sexual encounters, the women said Ablow beat them with a belt with a skull-shaped buckle and told one words to the effect of "I own you,” and "You are my slave,” according to legal filings. One woman wrote in an affidavit that she had Ablow’s Facebook name tattooed on her inner forearm.

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In February 2019, Ablow said via Twitter that he "categorically, completely” denied the allegations in the lawsuits.

Last summer, Ablow announced he was launching the The Ablow Center. According to the center’s website, Ablow "practiced psychiatry for over 25 years before developing his own life coaching, mentoring and spiritual counseling system. He has helped thousands of adults and adolescents across the United States, in Europe and in Asia, including CEOs, elected officials, professional athletes and world-renown artists.”

The site lists the center’s full name as the Ablow Center for Mind and Soul, and the listed address is the same one federal authorities raided Thursday. Ablow Center services include counseling and coaching; couples counseling; natural and holistic remedies; and leadership, executive and crisis coaching, the site says.

Ablow, a prolific author who contributed to the Fox News network until 2017, has also testified as a defense witness in the high-profile trials of Dr. Richard Sharpe, who was convicted of killing his wife in Wenham, and Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, the German national serving time for murder in California who pretended to be a member of the Rockefeller dynasty.



Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.