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Inland Empire Physician’s Assistant Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Dispense Narcotics Without Examining 'Patients'

November 16, 2012

RIVERSIDE - A physician's assistant who maintained a mobile medical service that operated in San Bernardino County pleaded guilty this morning to a federal narcotics charge for conspiring to distribute powerful and addictive painkillers to "patients" he did not examine and who simply paid cash for prescriptions.

Christopher Henry Lister, Sr., 50, of Apple Valley, pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge of conspiring to distribute controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose.

Lister pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips, who scheduled a sentencing hearing for February 25, 2013.  As a result of today's guilty plea, Lister faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, a lifetime period of supervised release, and a fine of up to $1 million.

In a plea agreement filed in United States District Court and at his guilty plea hearing, Lister admitted that on numerous occasions in 2009, he wrote and sold prescriptions for oxycodone, which is sold under a number of brand names, including Oxycontin.  He admitted that when he wrote these prescriptions, he acted outside of the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. Lister sold these prescriptions to individuals for cash, and the individuals later used some of these prescriptions to obtain oxycodone, and also resold some of these prescriptions to other users.

One of Lister's sales of a prescription for cash was recorded.  In the recording, Lister discussed the fact that he would be stopping his practice soon and that there would be a shortage of prescriptions, so prices would increase. Lister advised the customer to "stockpile" oxycodone and raise prices. Lister also asked the customer to bring Lister more business before the end of the week, and promised that if the customer came up with a list of names, Lister would put refills on them for a six-month supply.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which received assistance from the California Medical Board, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, and the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Release No. 12-161

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