(STL.News) – A Darien pharmacist is facing up to five years in prison after admitting that she lied about filling prescriptions for prescribers of high volumes of opioids and other controlled substances.
Janice Ann Colter, 62, of Darien, Ga., entered a guilty plea to one count of False Statements Relating to Health Care Matters, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Colter faces up to five years in prison and substantial fines and restitution, along with three years of supervised release upon completion of any prison sentence. There is no parole in the federal system.
“As the opioid crisis has burned across our nation, unethical medical professionals have poured fuel on the raging fire of addiction,” said U.S. Attorney Christine. “Our office will continue to vigorously prosecute drug dealers who hide behind white coats while profiteering from their greed.”
As part of her guilty plea, Colter, who formerly was the pharmacist-in-charge of Darien Pharmacy, admitted lying about filling prescriptions written by high-volume prescribers of opioids and other controlled substances. According to court documents and testimony, those prescribers included Dr. Frank H. Bynes Jr. of Savannah, recently convicted in U.S. District Court on multiple counts of Unlawful Dispensation of Controlled Substances and Health Care Fraud, and other physicians located as far away as Florida. From 2015 to 2017, Darien Pharmacy received more than one million dosage units of highly addictive opioids from its suppliers.
Colter, along with Darien Pharmacy, also is a defendant in a federal suit filed in August, seeking civil penalties for filling prescriptions for controlled substances that she “knew or should have known were not issued for legitimate medical reasons and by a provider not acting within the regular course of professional practice,” according to the suit.
Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the DEA said, “This pharmacist misled her suppliers to keep open a pipeline to prescribers who were doling out massive amounts of addicting controlled substances. Ms. Colter was not only reckless with regard to the many patients she served, but she also violated the trust of the community she served.”
“Pharmacist Colter placed profit and greed over the health and welfare of her community,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that tax payer funds are not used to line the pockets of criminals who fuel the opioid crisis.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Health and the Human Services Office of Inspector General investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Thomas Clarkson prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.