Coast Woman Sentenced to Almost 8 Years in Prison for Prescription Forgery Conspiracy
Gulfport, MS – Nakita Marie Piernas, 29, of Pass Christian, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden to 92 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Assistant Special Agent in Charge Derryle Smith. Piernas was also ordered to pay an $8,000.00 fine.
On October 24, 2017, Piernas pled guilty to count one of a 42-count indictment. Piernas admitted to conspiring with others to distribute Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Amphetamine, Alprazolam and Klonopin from 2014 until June 21, 2017. Piernas was an employee of Gulf Oaks Mental Health Clinic starting in October 2014. Shortly after starting her employment, Andrea Opoku, a co-worker, taught her how to write fraudulent prescriptions. Tyrone Thomas, another employee of the clinic, would recruit individuals who wanted prescriptions and were willing to pay between $100 and $200. Once Thomas found someone wanting a fraudulent prescription, that person would provide a name and date of birth to put on the fraudulent prescription. Piernas or Opoku would then write the prescription and someone would come to the clinic to get it.
During the investigation, DEA uncovered over 100 fraudulent prescriptions written by Opoku and Piernas. The prescriptions were in over 50 different individuals’ names. DEA further learned that the individuals who obtained the fraudulent prescriptions would either self-medicate with the narcotics or sell them on the street. Opoku and Piernas would also write prescriptions for one another, and at times, they would verify the fraudulent prescriptions if a pharmacist called the clinic questioning its validity. During the sentencing hearing, the Court found that Piernas was a leader or organizer of the conspiracy ring.
Opoku was sentenced by Judge Ozerden on March 5, 2018, to 92 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay an $8,000 fine. Thomas was sentenced by Judge Ozerden on March 2, 2018, to 103 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathlyn R. Van Buskirk.