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For Immediate Release
Janaury 8, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357

CURRAN CHARGES BALTIMORE WOMAN WITH
OPERATING PRESCRIPTION FRAUD SCHEME

Suspect Allegedly Used Minors to Falsely Obtain Oxycontin, Other Drugs

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that a Baltimore resident has been charged in a prescription fraud scheme that lasted over two years and involved illegal possession of Oxycontin pills and a variety of other medications, which were all paid for by Medicaid.

Thelma Hunter, 37, of the 800 block of Vine Street in Baltimore, has been charged in a 41-count indictment with possession with intent to distribute Oxycontin and two other controlled dangerous substances. In addition, Hunter has been charged with theft, fraud, and conspiracy. It is alleged that over a two year period beginning December 2000, Hunter uttered prescriptions using the names and Medicaid numbers of dozens of actual Medicaid recipients, when in fact all of the prescriptions were fraudulent. Hunter is charged with passing the forged prescriptions, obtaining and possessing the drugs and possessing the drugs with the intent to distribute them. The indictment alleges that Hunter obtained multiple Oxycontin prescriptions at one time, in one instance as many as four false prescriptions for Oxycontin in a single day. In addition, because she is alleged to have used Medicaid names and numbers to falsely obtain the drugs, the indictment also charges her with stealing from the Medicaid program. The indictment further charges that Hunter used a minor to obtain drugs for her as part of the overall drug conspiracy.

Oxycontin, a time-release painkiller derived from opium, is a brand name of oxycodone and can be addictive. Abusers have found that grinding up the pill and ingesting it leads to a heroin-like high.

The case is being prosecuted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office in conjunction with the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General and the Drug Enforcement Administration. While an indictment is only an accusation and all persons are presumed innocent unless proven guilty, a charge of possession with intent to distribute Oxycontin is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The use of a minor to distribute controlled dangerous substances is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Felony Medicaid fraud is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years and a fine of $100,000.

No arraignment date has been set.

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