Andrew Wolfson, Louisville Courier JournalPublished 11:12 a.m. ET Nov. 30, 2018 |\u00a0Updated 11:31 a.m. ET Nov. 30, 2018\r\nTo her friend and patient Thomas\u00a0Hayden, nurse practitioner Karla King is\u00a0a thorough and cautious professional.\r\nHayden, 70, a businessman who lives near Owensboro, said the testosterone treatments she gave him at the now-closed Balanced Life Medicine clinic\u00a0were transformative.\r\n\u201cI have the body of a 55-year-old,\u201d he said.\r\nBut King, 50, has been accused in lawsuits of causing the deaths by heart attack of two middle-aged patients by giving them excessive amounts of testosterone.\r\nIn October, she pleaded guilty in federal court to wire fraud.\r\nAnd in a complaint filed with the Kentucky Board of Nursing and in an interview with police, former employees say she ordered testosterone, a controlled substance, through her late husband\u2019s DEA number in the names of patients who didn\u2019t want the drug, then illegally stockpiled it for sale to her own patients.\r\nKarla King married Randall King, an Owensboro obstetrician-gynecologist, in 2012 and started a hormone practice\u00a0the following year adjoining her husband's practice.\u00a0She closed her clinic after her husband's death in 2016.\r\nHormone therapy is a burgeoning business in Kentucky and nationwide, but it also has come under attack. The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure in June banned a doctor,\u00a0the medical director of the Louisville-based 25 Again clinic, from practicing hormone therapy, ruling she had violated\u00a0acceptable and prevailing medical standards by giving hormones to people whose levels are within normal ranges.\r\nOn June,\u00a025 Again also was sued for allegedly\u00a0causing a patient's death, and the Board of Nursing this month\u00a0filed complaints against eight nurse practitioners\u00a0who previously worked there, alleging they violated guidelines adopted by\u00a0the American Thyroid Association and the Endocrine Society.\r\nProponents of hormone therapy say\u00a0it makes patients feel better and treats symptoms such as fatigue and listlessness that can plague patients, even if their hormone levels are normal.\r\nKing is accused of causing the deaths of patients James "Bimbo" Pate, 60, and James "Tony" Blandford, 58, by giving them extra testosterone when their levels of the hormone were normal.\r\nLouisville attorney Ronald Johnson, the lawyer representing both of their windows, said testosterone-pellet inserts sent Blandford\u2019s levels \u201coff the charts.\u201d\r\nThe case filed by Pate\u2019s estate was settled for an undisclosed amount.\r\nIn Blandford\u2019s case, a medical review in November comprised of three physicians\u00a0found that King\u2019s clinic \u201cfailed to comply with the appropriate standard of care,\u201d and that was a \u201csubstantial factor in producing a negative outcome\u201d for Blandford, who died in 2016.\u00a0The board's opinion\u00a0allowed the complaint to proceed in circuit court.\r\nKing denies liability in both cases. She did not respond to requests for comment for this article, but her attorney, John\u00a0Caudill, said a three-year FBI investigation\u00a0found she'd never harmed a patient.\r\nThe government did charge her with wire fraud\u00a0for obtaining $20,000 worth of unspecified \u201cgoods\u201d from Ooltewah, Tennessee, between 2013 to 2015, and she pleaded guilty in October in U.S. District Court.\r\nIn court records, the government said King \u201ccaused fax transmissions containing false and fraudulent information" to be sent from Owensboro, but prosecutors don't identify the goods or the nature of the fraud.\r\nIn an email, Johnson said it is troubling from a \u201cpublic safety perspective\u201d that the government let King plead guilty without disclosing\u00a0details of her wrongdoing.\r\n\u201cIf the conduct that led to her felony guilty plea also involved testosterone, this is information that would be crucial to any agency that protects the public from unscrupulous healthcare professionals,\u201d Johnson said.\r\nKing is licensed as both a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner in Tennessee; her Kentucky licenses expired last year. Under the laws of both states, she will have to report\u00a0her conviction to regulators.\r\nU.S. Attorney Russell Coleman and Assistant U.S. Attorney Madison Sewell, who is prosecuting the case, declined to respond to questions about the plea agreement or whether King fraudulently obtained testosterone.\r\nHowever, King testified in a Pate\u00a0lawsuit deposition that she got her testosterone pellets from a pharmacy in Ooltewah, a Chattanooga suburb.\r\nCaudill confirmed that his client obtained the hormone illegally but called it\u00a0a \u201ctechnical violation,\u201d which he said is why prosecutors recommended probation. He said she ordered testosterone pellets for some patients who decided not to use them and gave it to other patients, which he acknowledged is illegal.\r\nIn an October 2016 complaint to the Kentucky Board of Nursing, Linda Boarman, a nurse practitioner who worked for Dr. Randall King, said that King used her husband\u2019s DEA number to order testosterone pellets. She also alleged King routinely ordered pellets in the name of patients and friends who never intended to use them.\r\nAnother employee, Leighann Decker, who worked for Randall King as an ultrasound technician, also told police that Karla was fraudulently ordering testosterone, according to a police report. Boarman and Decker declined to respond to questions from the Courier-Journal.\r\nNurse practitioners are barred from stockpiling testosterone and other controlled substances, according to Morgan Ransdell, the nursing board\u2019s general counsel.\r\nThe board told Boarman in a letter that it found insufficient evidence to initiate formal disciplinary action on the matter.\r\nHowever, it found that King wrote a dozen prescriptions in violation of the law because they exceeded a 30-day limit. In a letter to the board, King attributed\u00a0the error to \u201cgood-faith misunderstanding\u201d of the law and promised to become fully compliant.\r\nKing will be sentenced in the fraud case on Jan. 24 by\u00a0Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr., in Owensboro. The government has recommended probation.\r\nAndrew Wolfson: 502-582-7189; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter:\u00a0@adwolfson.\u00a0 Support strong local journalism by subscribing today:\u00a0www.courier-journal.com\/andreww.