Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees have been charged with stealing prescription medications like oxycodone and Viagra to sell on the street.
Satishkumar Patel, Alisha Pagan and Nikita Neal have all been charged with conspiring together to steal and distribute highly addictive drugs, like oxycodone and hydrocodone, Christopher Thyer said in a press release. Thyer is the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Out of the three, Patel and Pagan are staring down additional charges, including intent to deliver oxycodone, THV11 reports.
Management at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System complained to the VA inspector general that large quantities of drugs were disappearing from the system.
A subsequent investigation in 2016 found that Patel, a pharmacy technician at the time, had put in large orders for thousands of oxycodone and hydrocone pills, 308 ounces of cough syrup and 14,000 Viagra and Cialis pills. He then gave the medication to Pagan, another pharmacy technician, who then passed it to Neal to deal out.
In total, the lost inventory cost the VA $70,000, which translated into $160,000 in terms of the value of the drugs on the street.
To avoid detection, Patel falsified payment invoices, but he apparently didn’t do a good enough job.
“This case is an example of government employees using their position of trust to not only steal from the taxpayers of Arkansas, but also to poison the communities we live in with dangerous drugs,” Thyer said.
“It is particularly egregious when the perpetrators of such illegal acts are health care professionals responsible for ensuring that potentially dangerous drugs are dispensed properly,” Matthew Barden, assistant special agent in charge of the Little Rock Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) office, said in a press release.
“We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, including those at the Department of Veteran Affairs Office of the Inspector General, to ensure that if a health care provider illegally diverts pharmaceuticals, they will be held accountable for the harm they cause,” Barden added.
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