Pharmacy Technicians Face Charges for VA Hospital Prescription Drug Diversion Scheme

Three Veterans Affairs pharmacy employees are facing charges related to a conspiracy to steal and distribute prescription pills.

Three Veterans Affairs pharmacy employees are facing charges related to a conspiracy to steal and distribute prescription pills. The scheme was uncovered following an investigation led by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General and the DEA, according to a press release.

According to the indictment, the 3 defendants participated in a scheme that involved ordering and diverting prescription medications from an Arkansas VA hospital to sell on the street.

Pharmacy technician Satishkumar “Steve” Patel allegedly ordered more than 7,000 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, 14,000 Viagra and Cialis pills, and 308 ounces of promethazine with codeine syrup through his access to the medical supplier’s web portal. Patel also allegedly created fraudulent payment invoices to cover up the scheme.

Alisha Pagan, who was also a pharmacy technician at the hospital, and pharmacy technician student trainee Nikita Neal were also involved in the conspiracy. Patel allegedly gave the prescriptions to Pagan, who then allegedly distributed a portion of the pills to Neal. The drugs, which have a street value of more than $160,000 and cost the VA more than $77,000 were illegally distributed on the street.

Patel, Pagan, and Neal are all charged with conspiracy to steal medication and conspiracies to distribute oxycodone and hydrocodone. Patel is being charged with 4 additional counts of possession with intent to deliver oxycodone, and Pagan is facing 1 count of the same charge.

If found guilty, the charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine, and up to 3 years of supervised release. Additionally, conspiracy to steal government property can result in up to 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to 3 years supervised release.

Reference

Veterans affairs employees charged with stealing and selling prescription drugs [news release]. Arkansas. Department of Justice US Attorney’s Office website. https://www.justice.gov/usao-edar/pr/veterans-affairs-employees-charged-stealing-and-selling-prescription-drugs. Accessed February 8, 2017.