High Desert Pharmacist Pleads Guilty to Illegal Distribution of Prescription Opioids and Laundering the Proceeds of the Illicit Sales
LOS ANGELES – A High Desert pharmacist has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of illegally distributing the opioid oxycodone, admitting that she filled hundreds of counterfeit prescriptions.
Pauline Tilton, 49, of Hesperia, a licensed pharmacist and the owner of Oasis Pharmacy in Victorville, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of distribution of oxycodone and one count of money laundering related to more than a quarter millions dollars of revenue generated by the illegal sales.
In conjunction with Tilton’s guilty pleas, Oasis Pharmacy also pleaded guilty Monday to the same two felony offenses.
According to court documents, over the course of just one year that ended in July 2017, Tilton filled at least 345 fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone. The prescriptions were written under the name and DEA registration number of a retired doctor. Tilton admitted knowing the prescriptions were fraudulent, outside the usual scope of professional practice, and without a legitimate medical purpose.
As a result of the 345 prescriptions, Tilton and Oasis Pharmacy illegally diverted approximately 62,100 tablets of oxycodone. Many of the fraudulent oxycodone prescriptions also included prescriptions for alprazolam and promethazine with codeine. Those three drugs – oxycodone, alprazolam, and promethazine with codeine – comprise the “Holy Trinity,” a frequently abused and life-threatening cocktail of controlled substances.
In return for filling the fake prescriptions, Tilton and Oasis Pharmacy received hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash payments. Between January 2016 and June 2017, Tilton deposited $268,621 of illicit cash proceeds from her illegal drug distribution into three banks accounts over which Tilton held sole signature authority.
Tilton and Oasis Pharmacy pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II, who scheduled sentencing hearings on August 12 for both defendants.
When she is sentenced, Tilton will face a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. Oasis Pharmacy could be ordered a fine of up to $1.25 million.
This case was the first to be charged as the result of an investigation into corrupt pharmacies dubbed “Operation Faux Pharmacy.”
This case is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; IRS Criminal Investigation; and the California Board of Pharmacy.
This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Chelsea Norell of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, & Racketeering Section.