Press-Republican

February 15, 2013

Former nurse gets 30 days in jail for prescription medication fraud

By SUZANNE MOORE
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Ann Witt was sentenced to 30 days in jail and five years probation in connection with prescription medication fraud.

The former licensed practical nurse, who worked at CVPH Medical Center, obtained more than 1,500 pills of Hydrocodone and Xanax from pharmacies in and around Plattsburgh, according to Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s office.

Originally charged with second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and second-degree forgery, both felonies, as well as seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, she recently pleaded guilty to second-degree forgery, a felony, by way of a Superior Court Information.

Witt, who was sentenced in Clinton County Court by Judge Patrick McGill, waived her right to appeal the conviction and surrendered her nurse’s license. 

“Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic that must be stopped,” Schneiderman said in a statement. 

“(This) sentence sends a clear message that medical professionals who use their position to break the law and put innocent patients in harm’s way by abusing drugs will be held accountable.”

ONLINE DATABASE

From about August 2010 through February 2011, Witt obtained blank but signed prescriptions from doctors at the Plattsburgh hospital, saying they were for patients, the release said. She then forged them to include her own name, the type of drugs and quantity and had them filled at area pharmacies. 

The attorney general said the method, which allowed her to obtain controlled substances at various drug stores in a short period of time, “is an example of what the newly enacted Internet System for Tracking Overprescribing (I-STOP) was intended to prevent. 

“The ... legislation will crack down on abuses like doctor shopping and prescription forgeries by creating an online database to report and track certain controlled substances in real time.”   

The aim, the release said, is to “arm medical professionals with the necessary data to, among other things, identify patterns of abuse by patients, doctors and pharmacists, help those who suffer from crippling addictions and prevent potential addiction before it starts.” 

FRAUD TEAM

The case was investigated by Michael Connelly under the supervision of Supervising Special Investigator Dianne Tuffey and Deputy Chief of Investigations Ted Fisher and Deputy Chief of Investigations Milton Branch, along with the assistance of Deborah Stewart, director of risk management at CVPH.

Prosecution was handled by the Albany Regional Office of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Office of the Attorney General. Erin Lynch represented the People under the supervision of Regional Director Kathleen A. Boland, Fraud Control Unit Director Monica Hickey Martin and Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.

Email Suzanne Moore:

smoore@pressrepublican.com