Over the past couple of weeks, the Allegiant Experts Blog has returned its focus to the topic of America’s opioid crisis. As we’ve highlighted in many a blog, it’s an epidemic that is taking lives at an alarming rate. Created to be pain killers, opioids of all kinds are becoming the culprits in numerous overdoses across the country. And, sadly, several medical practitioners are to blame for having opioids illegally distributed.
63 year-old Belinda Dietrich isn’t a medical practitioner. But she has joined the list of criminals who have found ways to get opioids on the street without legitimate prescriptions. As reported by the Middle District of Pennsylvania branch of the United States Department of Justice this week, the Marysville resident was sentenced to one year and a day in prison for forging the signature of a dentist on no less than 164 prescriptions for opioid drugs. Her sentence begins on January 6, 2020.
Dietrich pleaded guilty this past April.
According to the report, Dietrich pleaded guilty before Senior U.S. District Court Judge Sylvia H. Rambo in April of this year. The defendant admitted to one count of distributing a controlled substance and one count of making false statements in health care matters. A former receptionist for a solo dental practitioner in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Dietrich forged the signature of her employer on many occasions.
On February 13, 2017 she made use of a blank prescription form in order to fraudulently attain oxycodone pills for her mother. Her mother was a Medicare beneficiary, but not a patient of the dentist. Dietrich then took the prescription she wrote herself to have it filled at a Harrisburg area pharmacy. She ended up receiving 24 oxycodone pills and kept the drugs for her own use.
“The pharmacy billed the cost of the oxycodone pills to Medicare, which paid the claim,” the DoJ confirms. This was only the beginning of Dietrich’s forgeries. Between February 2016 and August 2017, she forged a total of 164 prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone.
Oxycodone is used to help relieve moderate to severe pain.
It works by tricking the brain to change how the body feels and responds to pain. Hydrocodone is also used to relieve severe pain, but is prescribed only to people who are expected to need medication to relieve severe pain around-the-clock and cannot be treated with other medications or treatments.
According to the DoJ report, “Dietrich filled out 10 of the bogus prescriptions for herself; the rest were made out to the names of 11 friends and family, who then filled the prescriptions at local pharmacies and shared the controlled substances among themselves. All together, more than 5,022 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills were obtained in this manner. All 11 individuals were prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office for their role in the forged prescription scheme.”
Are you an attorney who is currently trying a health care fraud case?
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