Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityRichland doctor heading to prison for unnecessary opioid prescriptions | KEPR
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Richland doctor heading to prison for unnecessary opioid prescriptions


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SPOKANE -- U.S. District Judge Edward F. Shea sentenced Dr. Janet Sue Arnold, 63, of Benton City, to 48 months in federal prison for conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute opioid pain medications and other controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice. Senior Judge Shea also imposed a period of 3-years’ federal supervised release.

In announcing the sentence, Senior Judge Shea emphasized the risks created by Defendant’s offense, stating, that this “particular crime created the risk of so many others.”

According to court documents, Arnold abused her position of trust as a medical doctor by participating in a prescription drug conspiracy with Danielle Corine Mata, David Barnes Nay, Lisa Marie Cooper and Jennifer Cheri Prichard. As part of their conspiracy, Dr. Arnold and her conspirators pushed thousands of pills on the street to be abused by addicts, and potentially caused others to become addicted to controlled substances. Mata and Prichard, who were both addicts, started out as patients but eventually started working at Dr. Arnold’s Richland, Washington clinic – Desert Wind Family Practice. In approximately March 2016, Mata became the practice’s office manager and one of Arnold’s most trusted associates. During the conspiracy, Nay and Cooper also provided Mata with the names of fictitious patients for her to use on several of the blank, pre-signed prescriptions to obtain opioids.

The conspiracy operated primarily out of Dr. Arnold’s clinic in Richland. Action News was on scene when DEA agents searched her facility in 2017.

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On regular basis, the conspirators distributed highly addictive and dangerous controlled substances, including fentanyl, oxycodone, methadone, hydromorphone, methylphenidate, an amphetamine mixture, as well as carisoprodol and alprazolam. Dr. Arnold had a pattern and practice of providing office staff and patients with hundreds of blank, pre-signed prescriptions that, after logging into the clinic computer, allowed the conspirators to complete and print prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances. Text messages recovered by investigators from Arnold’s and Mata’s phones demonstrated that Dr. Arnold had texted Mata asking if she needed more “signed paper.” A conspirator acknowledged how important Dr. Arnold’s signature was to the illegal prescription drug distribution conspiracy when she commented to another conspirator, “It’s just a scribble, but it’s important.” Dr. Arnold also prescribed oxycodone pills to a DEA confidential informant without a legitimate medical reason and outside the usual course of medical practice. The confidential informant, posing as a patient, sought treatment from Dr. Arnold for a headache. The confidential informant’s interactions with Arnold were covertly audio- and video-recorded.

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