Former Norwich Pharmacist Charged with Forging Prescriptions to Acquire Oxycodone and Alprazolam
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England, today announced that on June 20, 2018, a grand jury in New Haven returned a 12-count indictment charging ERIC TINGLEY, 42, formerly of Lebanon, Connecticut and currently residing in Las Vegas, Nevada, with using forged prescriptions to acquire thousands of oxycodone and alprazolam tablets from the Connecticut pharmacy where he was employed.
TINGLEY was arrested yesterday in Rhode Island. Following his arrest, he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah A. L. Merriam in New Haven and is detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for tomorrow at 2:30 p.m.
As alleged in the indictment, TINGLEY was a licensed pharmacist employed at a pharmacy in Norwich. Between approximately October 2016 and July 2017, TINGLEY forged approximately 183 prescriptions for oxycodone and approximately 26 prescriptions for alprazolam, and filled the forged prescriptions at the pharmacy where he worked. Through these forged prescriptions, TINGLEY unlawfully obtained more than 35,000 oxycodone tablets and more than 2,000 alprazolam tablets. He then distributed the drugs for his own benefit.
The indictment charges TINGLEY with one count of possession with intent to distribute oxycodone and alprazolam, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, and 11 counts of obtaining oxycodone and alprazolam by fraud and forgery, and offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of four years on each count.
U.S. Attorney Durham stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This investigation is being conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Avi M. Perry and John T. Pierpont, Jr.
This indictment is announced as part of a national health care fraud takedown. Earlier today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other federal law enforcement officials announced the largest ever health care fraud enforcement action involving 601 charged defendants across 58 federal districts, including 165 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving more than $2 billion in false billings. Of those charged, 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics. Thirty state Medicaid Fraud Control Units also participated in today’s arrests. In addition, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that, since July 2017, it has excluded 2,700 individuals from participation in Medicare, Medicaid, and all other Federal health care programs, which includes 587 providers excluded for conduct related to opioid diversion and abuse.
“Health care fraud is a betrayal of vulnerable patients, and often it is theft from the taxpayer,” said Attorney General Sessions. “In many cases, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists take advantage of people suffering from drug addiction in order to line their pockets. These are despicable crimes. That’s why this Department of Justice has taken historic new steps to go after fraudsters, including hiring more prosecutors and leveraging the power of data analytics. Today the Department of Justice is announcing the largest health care fraud enforcement action in American history. This is the most fraud, the most defendants, and the most doctors ever charged in a single operation—and we have evidence that our ongoing work has stopped or prevented billions of dollars’ worth of fraud. I want to thank our fabulous partners with the FBI, DEA, our Health Care Fraud task forces, HHS, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, IRS Criminal Investigation, Medicare, and especially the more than 1,000 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers from across America who made this possible. By every measure we are more effective at finding and prosecuting medical fraud than ever.”