Western District of Washington

May 12, 2011

Defendants Stole Identities, Health Insurance Info and Prescription Pads to Obtain Drugs

Two Seattle area residents pleaded guilty late yesterday to federal charges stemming from their scheme to obtain prescription narcotic pain medications using other people’s identities and health insurance, and prescription pads stolen from doctors. HORACE MITCHELL III, 26, and ALYSE BURRELL, 27, both of Seattle, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Aggravated Identity Theft and Conspiracy To Acquire Controlled Substances by Fraud and To Distribute Controlled Substances. Both face up to 22 years in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly on September 1, 2011.

According to records filed in the case, ALYSE BURRELL worked as a billing technician at a medical clinic in Seattle. She stole patient information, such as names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and health insurance plan numbers for approximately 60 patients of her employer. BURRELL and MITCHELL used the stolen information and stolen prescription pads to forge prescriptions for narcotic pain killers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. The pair forged the names of three different doctors on the prescription forms and charged the drugs to the health insurance associated with the stolen patient identities. They passed nearly 100 fraudulent prescriptions in numerous different counties in Washington and Oregon, obtaining more than 145,930 mg of oxycodone; 4569 pills of hydrocodone; and at least 1550 doses of methadone. The pair then sold drugs to others to be distributed in the Seattle area. BURRELL and MITCHELL were arrested in Oregon on October 10, 2010, attempting to fill fraudulent prescriptions. After they were released on bond in Oregon, they resumed their criminal conduct by passing more fraudulent prescriptions in Seattle. As a result, they were arrested on these federal charges.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend between five and six years in prison for BURRELL and between four and five years in prison for MITCHELL. Judge Zilly is free to sentence the defendants to any prison term allowed by law, in this case up to 22 years.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and the FBI. Seattle Police Department, Shoreline Police Department, Washington County Oregon Sheriff’s Office, Beaverton Oregon Police Department, Milwaukie Oregon Police Department, and Tigard Oregon Police Department participated in the investigation. The Regence BlueShield Special Investigations Unit also provided assistance.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mary K. Dimke and Thomas Woods.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.