News and Press Releases

Natalie Jeanne Willis Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on June 15, 2011, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, NATALIE JEANNE WILLIS, a 30-year-old resident of Billings, appeared for sentencing. WILLIS was sentenced to a term of:

Prison: 100 months

Special Assessment: $ 100

Supervised Release: 3 years (with 180 days Residential Reentry Program upon release from custody)

WILLIS was sentenced in connection with her guilty plea to possession with the intent to distribute Oxycontin and Oxycodone.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica T. Fehr, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

In the fall of 2008, the Billings Police Department City /County Special Investigations Unit and Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (CCSIU/HIDTA) received a tip of possible drug dealing activity occurring at a residence on the west end of Billings. Law enforcement learned that unidentified subjects would regularly show up at the residence, knock at the front door or call on a cell phone from the driveway. A short time later an individual, later identified as Charles Haman - WILLIS's husband, emerged from the residence and exchanged items for cash.

In February of 2009, after the initial report to law enforcement, a physician reported to law enforcement that one of his prescription pads was stolen from his office. The physician did not know who stole the pad but provided law enforcement with the name that appeared on the fraudulent prescription. The fraudulent prescription contained a forgery of the doctor's signature on the prescription. A male individual attempted to have the fraudulent prescription filled at a pharmacy in Billings. Witnesses identified Haman as the man who posed as the male attempting to fill the fraudulent prescription.

As the investigation progressed, law enforcement learned of more fraudulent prescriptions being filled by individuals identified by witnesses as WILLIS, Shauna Willis, and Haman. The fraudulent prescriptions were not just from the prescription pad stolen from the prior physician's office, the fraudulent prescriptions were also allegedly written by seven other area physicians. The majority of the prescriptions were written for Oxycodone and Oxycontin. Oxycodone is the generic name for the narcotic. Oxycontin is the trade marked time release version of Oxycodone. Oxycodone and Oxycontin are Schedule II narcotics prescribed by physicians for high pain relief.

On July 9, 2009, law enforcement executed a search warrant on WILLIS and Haman's residence - the same residence law enforcement received complaints about in the fall of 2008. During the search, law enforcement seized tablets of Oxycontin, drug paraphernalia, pharmacy and physician information, prescription bottles and labels, blank prescriptions, Photoshop material, CD's containing images of prescriptions, forged prescriptions, forged writings, security paper and information about creating a false identity through obtaining death records.

WILLIS and Haman were interviewed by law enforcement. WILLIS and Haman confessed to a forgery scheme which involved the manufacturing of fraudulent controlled substance prescriptions utilizing a computer, the computer program Photoshop and security paper. Shauna Willis and co-conspirators obtained legitimate prescriptions for Oxycodone and Oxycontin from several doctors in the Billings area. WILLIS and Haman would then scan the image of the valid prescriptions, alter the scanned images by erasing the original information and filling in new information, and print the new image onto security paper. WILLIS would fill out the new prescription and subsequently forge the doctors' signatures to create the fraudulent prescriptions. WILLIS and Shauna Willis would then visit area pharmacies and attempt to have the fraudulent prescriptions filled. Haman confirmed the couple was distributing and selling the controlled substances to others at their home. It was also confirmed that part of each fraudulently obtained prescription was distributed between the three individuals involved - Haman, WILLIS and Shauna Willis. During the scheme, WILLIS directed Haman to place phone calls, impersonating treating physicians, to convince pharmacists to fill the fraudulent prescriptions once the prescriptions' authenticity were questioned.

To date, more than 90 prescriptions have been determined as fraudulent. The fraudulent prescriptions resulted in the illegal dispensing of more than 700,000 milligrams of Schedule II narcotics. The fraudulent prescriptions created by WILLIS and co-conspirators were filled at multiple pharmacies in Yellowstone, Stillwater and Bighorn Counties. The majority of the fraudulent prescriptions cost approximately $1,300 to $1,500 and were paid for in cash.

The pharmacists that filled the fraudulent prescriptions did so based solely on their belief that each prescription was validly issued by a physician.

Haman and Shauna Willis pled guilty to federal charges and have been sentenced.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that WILLIS will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, WILLIS does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Billings Police Department City-County Special Investigation Unit in Billings/High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, and the Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Investigations Division.



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