High Desert Pharmacist Sentenced to over 5 Years in Federal Prison for Illegally Distributing Prescription Opioids and Money Laundering
LOS ANGELES – A High Desert pharmacist who illegally distributed oxycodone by filling hundreds of counterfeit prescriptions was ordered today to serve 63 months in federal prison.
Pauline Tilton, 50, of Hesperia, a licensed pharmacist and the owner of Oasis Pharmacy in Victorville, was sentenced by United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II.
Tilton pleaded guilty on April 29 to one count of distribution of oxycodone and one count of money laundering related to more than a quarter millions dollars of revenue she received from the illegal sales.
Tilton filled at least 345 fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone during a one-year period that ended in July 2017. The prescriptions were written under the name and DEA registration number of a retired doctor. When she pleaded guilty, 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 to the black market. 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.
“Tilton admitted that she abused a position of public trust and special skill in committing these offenses, as she used her position of as a pharmacist-in-charge to falsify and fill fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone and other, potentially lethal controlled narcotics, which she sold to drug dealers,” prosecutors wrote in documents filed with the court.
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, using defendant Oasis, profited handsomely for her criminal activity, which included injecting thousands of opioids and other lethal prescription drugs into a community that, like much of the country, is ravaged by the Opioid Crisis,” according to court documents.
As he imposed the prison term – and ordered Tilton to pay a $30,000 fine – Judge Wright said the defendant demonstrated a “callous disregard for her own customers’ health.”
When Tilton pleaded guilty, Oasis Pharmacy also pleaded guilty to the same drug distribution and money laundering offenses. Judge Wright today placed Oasis Pharmacy on probation for one year.
This case was the first to be charged as the result of an ongoing 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 V. Norell of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, & Racketeering Section.