A registered nurse from West Boca is charged with 18 counts of drug trafficking and 19 counts of prescription drug fraud, after pharmacy workers alerted authorities to numerous prescriptions in her name that appeared fraudulent.
Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys know that the issue of prescription drug abuse and addiction in Florida has reached epidemic proportions. In recent years, the state earned the nickname, “Oxy Express.”
It got so bad that the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program was established in 2009, launching full operations last year. Part of that program is Florida Statute 893.055, which requires doctors to report to the agency any time they prescribe a controlled substance, such as Oxycodone, to a patient. The idea is to create a central database that will allow monitors to prevent doctor-shopping.
Measures were also put in place to shut down so-called “pill mills” that illegally prescribe unnecessary medication to either addicts or people who intend to resell the drugs. For example, the state Attorney General’s Office enacted a Pill Mill Task Force, which as of this summer had made some 2,150 arrests, including 34 doctors. The task force indicates that 90 of the top 100 doctors known for “pushing” Oxycodone are in Florida.
And deaths resulting from prescription pill overdoses are rampant.
So the issue here, as our Fort Lauderdale defense lawyers see it, is less criminal and more illness related to addiction.
Prescription drug addiction can be a powerful force – one of the few that would explain why a successful registered nurse would put her entire career on the line for 1,500 pills.
That’s why, depending on the circumstances of the case, our defense team will focus on trying to get our client into intensive rehabilitative treatment as an alternative to long-term incarceration. Generally, these are individuals who aren’t violent and may have little or no prior record. All of their alleged criminal actions were for the purposes of obtaining and using drugs. Sometimes, having an individual enter a substance abuse program prior to trial may positively effect the sentencing stage of the process.
This case is still in the beginning stages.
According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, a pharmacy representative from Palm Springs called after a home health nurse was reportedly obtaining prescriptions for numerous patients written by at least three different doctors.
She was personally covering the insurance co-payments.
Pharmacists merely had a suspicion, but it wasn’t until detectives interviewed one of the doctors that they began to build the criminal case. The doctor said he did not recognize the patients names that were reportedly being prescribed the medications, but he did recognize the nurse as a former patient. He noted that the prescriptions on which his name was forged appeared computer-generated, where as he typically gives patients a hand-written, paper slip.
Investigators then interviewed another doctor in West Palm Beach. He too said he didn’t recognize the patients’ names, but he did recognize the nurse. He said she used to work at the home health care center that shared an office space with his practice. Seemingly, that is how she was able to obtain prescription pads from his office.
While prosecutors are charging her with more than 30 criminal counts, individual charges can also sometimes be consolidated, as they often pertain to a single course of conduct.
If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.
Sheriff’s Office: West Boca woman duped pharmacy, Oct. 25, 2012, By Ed Komenda, Sun Sentinel
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