Washington physician gets 4 years in prison for opioid charges

Physician Janet Arnold, MD, was sentenced to four years in prison on opioid distribution charges, the Justice Department said April 27.

Dr. Arnold, 63, was also given a three-year federal supervised release period once she completes her prison sentence, the department said.

She participated in a prescription drug scheme that pushed thousands of pills onto the street, the department said. Two of Dr. Arnold's patients who struggled with addiction, Danielle Mata, 44, and Jennifer Prichard, 46, eventually started working at her Desert Wind Family Practice clinic in Richland, Wash. Ms. Mata became the clinic's office manager in March 2016.

Ms. Mata used fictitious patient names on blank, pre-signed prescriptions to obtain opioids, the department said. The scheme's conspirators distributed drugs including fentanyl, oxycodone, methadone, hydromorphone, the amphetamine mixture methylphenidate, carisoprodol and alprazolam.

Dr. Arnold gave patients and office staff hundreds of blank, pre-signed prescriptions that enabled access to the drugs, the department said.

She prescribed oxycodone pills without a legitimate medical reason to a Drug Enforcement Agency informant, the department said. The informant went to Dr. Arnold to treat a headache, and their interactions were secretly audio- and video-recorded.

Dr. Arnold is the third of five defendants to be sentenced in the case, the department said. Ms. Mata and Ms. Prichard are set to be sentenced in May.

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