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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Alaska

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Anchorage Nurse Practitioner and Soldotna Doctor Arrested on Separate Federal Narcotics Charges

Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced today that Special Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration have arrested an Anchorage nurse practitioner and a Soldotna doctor on separate federal narcotics charges, which allege that they illegally distributed large amounts of opioids and other powerful narcotics by writing prescriptions for “patients” without medical examinations and lacking medical necessity.  Federal law enforcement officials executed multiple search warrants in both cases yesterday. 

Jessica Joyce Spayd, 48, of Anchorage owns a medical clinic called Eagle River Wellness in Eagle River, Alaska.  Spayd is a licensed Advanced Nurse Practitioner specializing in pain management and addiction treatment. Spayd was arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint that charges her with illegally distributing oxycodone, methadone, and hydromorphone.

The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint alleges that between 2014 and 2019, Spayd prescribed over 4 million dosage units of opioid narcotics to just over 450 unique “patients” in Alaska, many of whom traveled hundreds of miles from Fairbanks, Utqiagvik, King Salmon and other remote locations to obtain prescriptions. The complaint alleges that Spayd’s unlawful distribution of opioids resulted in the deaths of two patients. Law enforcement agencies continue to investigate Spayd’s prescribing history.

Dr. Lavern R. Davidhizar, 74, of Soldotna owns and practices at Family Medical Clinic in Soldotna, Alaska.  Davidhizar has been licensed as an Osteopathic Physician since 1978 and holds an Alaska Medical License. Davidhizar was arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint that charges him with illegally distributing controlled substances outside the course of professional practice.

The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint alleges that between 2017 and 2019, Davidhizar prescribed over 700,000 narcotic pills. During that time, the leading medications prescribed, but not limited to, were hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, methadone, and tramadol. According to the affidavit, drug abusers on the Kenai Peninsula referred to Davidhizar as the “Candy Man” because it was common knowledge that people could obtain pain medication prescriptions from him even though they did not have a legitimate medical need. Law enforcement agencies continue to investigate Davidhizar’s prescribing history.

In response to the arrests, U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder states, “[t]ogether with our partners in law enforcement, we are committed to prosecuting the illegal distribution of controlled substances, whether the crimes are committed by medical professionals or street dealers.  The end result of their activities is the same: the creation of addicts, crime, and sometimes death.” 

Additionally, “[t]he Rural Alaska Anti-Violence Enforcement Network (RAAVEN) represents an ongoing effort to build the capacity of federal, state, and tribal law enforcement in rural Alaska and collaborative public safety and prevention measures with community leaders and local law enforcement officers.” 

“While facing a frightening opioid drug epidemic, it is truly sad that these two medical professionals would deliberately contribute to this on-going health crisis,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis.  “DEA and its partners will continue to aggressively address illicit drug trafficking throughout the entire State of Alaska under Operation RAAVEN.”

If convicted, Spayd faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years to life in federal prison for the most serious charges alleged in the complaint.  If convicted, Davidhizar faces a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.  The actual sentences imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants. The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

If the public has any further information regarding Spayd or Davidhizar,

please contact Anchorage DEA at (907) 271-5033.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and members of the Alaska Health Care Fraud Task Force, with assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Office of Law Enforcement and Security, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Alaska State Parks Rangers, Alaska State Troopers, Anchorage Police Department, Soldotna Police Department, Kenai Police Department, Alaska Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and the State of Alaska Division of Insurance conducted the investigations leading to the charges in these cases. The Spayd case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan D. Tansey. The Davidhizar case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Corso and Jonas Walker. 

The Alaska Health Care Fraud Task Force (AHCFTF) is a partnership of local, state, federal, and private agencies focused on the investigation of health care fraud, waste, and abuse in Alaska or affecting Alaskan interests. For more information:  https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/anchorage/alaska-health-care-fraud-task-force

Topic(s): 
Opioids
Prescription Drugs
Health Care Fraud
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Public Affairs (907) 271-5022 USAAK.PressRelease@usdoj.gov
Press Release Number: 
19-070
Updated October 9, 2019