Dr. Keith Morris

A physician who practiced in Franklin and St. Louis counties illegally distributed drugs "without a legitimate medical purpose," a federal indictment issued Tuesday alleges.

The federal grand jury indictment charges Dr. Keith Dale Morris with four felony counts of distribution of medications "outside the usual course of professional practice," according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Morris, 54, of Krakow, is charged in two counts with distribution of amphetamine salts and oxycodone, both Schedule II controlled substance drugs, and one count each of distribution of hydrocodone, a Schedule III controlled substance, and alprazolam, a Schedule IV controlled substance.

Morris allegedly distributed the drugs between April 2008 and July 2010, according to the indictment.

He was expected to appear Tuesday before a federal judge in St. Louis on the charges.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office assisted the Diversion Unit of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the initial investigation.

"It's been a long investigation," remarked Capt. Don Jones of the sheriff's department.

Jones said the probe began last year after a woman who fled from deputies was stopped and appeared to be under the influence of drugs, he said.

That investigation led to Morris becoming a suspect.

"At that point we turned the case over to the DEA," Jones said.

Morris worked 11 years at the Mercy Medical Arts Group, Family Medicine, in Union, before joining Patients First Health Care in August 2010 and began seeing patients at the company's Eureka Urgent Care which opened that same month, according to a press release issued by the doctors group.

A spokesperson with Patients First said Morris was suspended from the company Tuesday pending further investigation.

Morris, if convicted, faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or up to a $1 million fine on the Schedule II drug distribution charges. The maximum penalty on the Schedule III distribution charge is 10 years in prison and/or fines of up to $500,000. Distribution of Schedule IV drugs carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines of up to $250,000, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. Davis is handling the case for the U.S. attorney's office.

Charges in grand jury indictments are accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty, the U.S. attorney's office noted in a prepared statement.