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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 22, 2013

Wilkerson P. Phillips, Sr. Sentenced In U.S. District Court

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Helena, on November 21, 2013, before Senior U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell, WILKERSON P. PHILLIPS, SR., a 50-year-old resident of Louisiana, was sentenced to a term of:

  • obation: 5 years
  • ecial Assessment: $100

PHILLIPS was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to the acquisition of controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud, and deception.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

PHILLIPS was a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist ("CRNA") working on a contract basis at the Fort Harrison Veterans Affairs Medical Center ("VAMC") acute care medical-surgical facility. At that facility, much of the anesthesia care is provided by CRNAs under the supervision of staff anesthesiologists and surgeons.

CRNAs are able to access prescription medications for use in patients' pre-, post-, and inter-operative care through the use of the "Omnicell" automated drug-dispensing machine. The Omnicell provides a secure method of storage, and requires staff to authenticate and record the removal, return, waste, and inventory of the stocked medications, which include multiple Schedule II and III controlled substances such as hydromorphone, fentanyl citrate, and ketamine.

PHILLIPS used his access to the Omnicell to withdraw certain prescription drugs associated with his CRNA responsibilities for patient anesthesia care. In May and June 2011, PHILLIPS was diverting prescription medications from the Fort Harrison VAMC for his own unauthorized use. Investigators discovered and seized physical evidence from the VAMC and from PHILLIPS' person, car, and hotel room, including used syringes, vials that contained controlled substances, and other drug paraphernalia. The drugs corresponded to items that were unaccounted for in PHILLIPS' Omnicell transaction records. On June 15, 2011, PHILLIPS admitted to diverting drugs for his own use and described in some detail how he obtained the drugs from the Omnicell system.

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - Office of Inspector General.

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Updated January 14, 2015