Shady Dealings Prompt an Investigation by Polk County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Investigtors that Leads to the Arrest of Nine.
In the later part of May, 2011, the Polk County Sheriff's Office began an investigation into the mishandling of prescription pads, prescriptions, and prescription medications. The investigation showed that a local doctor's office was not controlling prescription pads and even signed prescription pads as needed. The entire doctor's office staff had access to signed and unsigned prescription pads which led to prescriptions being written by office staff to several subjects who had never been seen by the doctor at that office. During the investigation, one of Polk County's local pharmacies popped up as being the place to fill the medications without a lot of questions being asked, or when questions were asked, the pharmacist would ok the medication to be filled anyway. The Sheriff's Office Narcotics Division investigated several cases which led to charges being filed for prescription fraud. Lieutenant Andy Lowrie advised during the past investigations, the suspects would fill their medications in areas such as Cleveland, The Woodlands, and Houston. Lowrie stated that in most cases, scripts are filled locally due to the pharmacies locally doing a great job at preventing illegal prescriptions from being filled. According to Lowrie local pharmacists would ask questions that need to be asked and by calling doctors to get a verification before the scripts are filled.
Narcotics investigators have seen a large shift of prescriptions being filled with the advent of one local pharmacy in Polk County. Lowrie added that most of the shady scripts being filled could have been prevented from making it onto the streets of Polk County had the pharmacist verified the scripts by calling the doctor's office that allegedly prescribed them to get a verification.
Prescription pill abuse is a growing problem due to the availability, and if you have a script in hand, you possess it legally until proven otherwise. This problem is spreading into our schools and to our kids. It is the responsibility of the doctors and pharmacists prescribe and dispense the medications to prevent the problem by stopping the problem at its source. This is achieved by verifying who they are writing the scripts to, what scripts are being filled, and for whom. Lowrie stated that the people that they have investigated for prescription fraud are very deceiving when it comes to answering doctors' questions regarding medications they currently take, what they are prescribed and by what doctor. Lowrie added that it is a small amount of doctors and pharmacists who are in this just for the money. With the script doctors it is very easy to get a prescription written for whatever the "patient" wants and the prescription is usually filled at a pharmacy where not a lot of questions are asked. Lowrie revealed that during the investigation the following list of subjects were arrested and charged with prescription fraud (some are ex doctor's office employees, and some are ex pharmacy employees):
Melissa Fitzgerald, 38, of Nacogdoches: Four counts of prescription fraud
Jimmie Valderez (female), 30, of Livingston: One count of fraud with additional charges forwarded to the Polk County District Attorney's Office
Dana Turner, 33, of Livingston: Four counts of fraud with additional charges forwarded to the Polk County District Attorney's Office
Jeremy Valderez, 34, of Livingston: One count of fraud with additional charges forwarded to the Polk County District Attorney's Office
Tara Hancock Postell, 32, of Livingston: Two counts of fraud with additional charges forwarded to the Polk County District Attorney's Office
Mack Graham, 39, of Nacogdoches: Four counts of fraud
Shannon Cain, 33, of Livingston: Three counts of fraud with additional charges forwarded to the Polk County District Attorney's Office
Jerry Loper, 44, of Hunnington: One count of fraud with additional charges forwarded to the Polk County District Attorney's Office
Kelbi Peters, 31, of Livingston: Two counts of fraud with additional charges forwarded to the Polk County District Attorney's Office
Lieutenant Lowrie advised that not all employees who worked at a doctor's office or pharmacy were involved in any wrong doing and assisted greatly in the investigation conducted by the Sheriff's Office. All subjects have bonded out of jail except for three (they remain in jail awaiting court appearances). All subjects were given the same bond amount for the charges of fraud each had been arrested for. An ongoing investigation is continuing into the pharmacy and doctors' office operations by agencies such as the Medical Board, Pharmacy Board and the DEA.
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