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For Immediate Release
November 6, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
scaine@oag.state.md.us

BALTIMORE WOMAN GIVEN 10 YEARS FOR MEDICAID FRAUD, CONSPIRACY TO DISTRIBUTE DRUGS

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that a Baltimore City woman was convicted of nine felony counts for a two-year spree of obtaining false prescriptions in the name of Medicaid recipients and selling the drugs on the street. After a trial in Circuit Court for Baltimore City before Judge Timothy Doory, Thelma Hunter, 38, of 338 South Ballou Court, was sentenced to 10 years in prison without parole and ordered to pay restitution of $100,000.

In the fall of 2000, Hunter was employed as a housekeeper by The Chimes Inc., a facility that cares for developmentally disabled adults. Hunter stole blank prescription pads and documents containing the names and Medicaid numbers of Chimes’ residents. Over the next two years, Hunter and some accomplices passed over 1,000 false prescriptions in the names of dozens of Medicaid recipients. Hunter obtained thousands of OxyContin pills (oxycodone) and other medications, including AIDS drugs, which she sold on the street.

By knowingly using stolen Medicaid information, Hunter’s scheme caused the Medicaid program to pay over $168,000 for fraudulently obtained medications to support her drug business. Further, in November 2001, after being released on probation as a result of three convictions for selling drugs, Hunter recruited and used a minor in her business to obtain and distribute drugs.

Hunter was convicted of nine felony counts, including conspiracy to possess drugs with the intent to distribute, Medicaid fraud, using a minor to obtain drugs and possessing oxycodone derivatives with the intent to sell them. Because she was convicted in 2001 of possessing oxycodone products with the intent to distribute, Hunter is a repeat offender and therefore subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years without parole. Judge Doory gave Hunter the mandatory sentence on each oxycodone charge, and 5-year concurrent sentences on the remaining conspiracy charges. Hunter also received 5-year concurrent sentences, suspended until her release from prison, for the other four felony convictions.

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. Abuse of oxycodone derivatives has been linked to dozens of deaths throughout the east coast.

“ We will continue to aggressively go after people who defraud the Medicaid system and those who illegally put dangerously addictive drugs on the street,” Attorney General Curran said.

The case was 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

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