In El Paso, Texas, 18 people were arrested in connection with a prescription opioid fraud scheme that federal, state, and county law enforcement had been investigating for nearly a year. Along with the arrests more than 3,300 powerful painkillers were seized. The drugs seized included hydrocodone, methadone, tramadol, and temazepam. While some of the drugs originated from Mexico, others were obtained through common prescription fraud tactics such as stealing physician's prescription pads from their offices', writing prescriptions for fictitious patients, and altering physician prescriptions. Law enforcement is still seeking six more suspects in connection with this investigation.
Prescription Drug Fraud in Washington
There are several laws in place pertaining to how prescription drugs may be dispensed in the state of Washington that are meant to safeguard against prescription drug fraud. Importantly,
- “Except when dispensed directly by a practitioner authorized to prescribe or administer a controlled substance, other than a pharmacy, to an ultimate user, a substance included in Schedule II may not be dispensed without the written or electronically communicated prescription of a practitioner.
- A valid prescription or lawful order of a practitioner, in order to be effective in legalizing the possession of controlled substances, must be issued in good faith for a legitimate medical purpose by one authorized to prescribe the use of such controlled substance. An order purporting to be a prescription not in the course of professional treatment is not a valid prescription or lawful order of a practitioner; and the person who knows or should know that the person is filling such an order, as well as the person issuing it, can be charged with a violation.”
The law goes further to cite acts which are prohibited in regards to obtaining a prescription. “It is unlawful for any person to knowingly or intentionally:
- use a fake registration number in order to manufacture, distribute, dispense, acquire, or obtain a controlled substance.
- “To obtain or attempt to obtain a controlled substance, or procure or attempt to procure the administration of a controlled substance,
- by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or subterfuge; or
- by forgery or alteration of a prescription or any written order; or
- by the concealment of material fact; or
- by the use of a false name or the giving of a false address;
- To make or utter any false or forged prescription or false or forged written order;
- To possess a false or fraudulent prescription with intent to obtain a controlled substance; or
- To attempt to illegally obtain controlled substances by providing more than one name to a practitioner when obtaining a prescription for a controlled substance.”
Prescription Drug Fraud Penalties
The Washington Code states that “it is unlawful for any person to manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture or deliver, a controlled substance.” The penalties for prescription drug fraud are steep and range in severity depending on the Schedule class of the fraudulently obtained controlled substance and can be often in conjunction with other penalties. To fraudulently obtain a prescription drug in Washington can carry the following penalties:
- Class C Felony
- Up to $2,000 fine
- Up to two years in prison
There are a lot of factors to consider when someone is arrested for prescription drug fraud. The type of drug, its schedule classification, and the amount in possession can all drastically change the penalty received if convicted. For those reasons, you need the assistance of the Law Offices of Steve Karimi right away. Experienced attorney Steve Karimi has a proven record of successful drug defense. Contact us today to secure your future.