Farmington woman pleads guilty in prescription drug case

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FARMINGTON — A woman pleaded guilty Monday to making out 43 prescriptions containing hydrocodone and oxycodone, using names of people who were not patients of the doctor for whom she worked. She then used his stamp to validate the prescriptions and picked up many of those prescriptions herself, according to court testimony.

Rhonda Lynn Drake, 43, of Farmington pleaded guilty to felony charges of acquiring drugs by deception and forgery in Franklin County Superior Court.

The state dismissed a higher felony charge of aggravated trafficking of scheduled drugs in a plea agreement.

Judge Susan Oram sentenced Drake to two years in prison, all suspended, two years probation and a $400 fine on the drug charge, and two years probation, all suspended, on the forgery charge.

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The incidents occurred from Aug. 1, 2013, to March 6, 2014.

If the case went to trial, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins said that Dr. David Rice would have testified that someone from a pharmacy in Manchester called to question a prescription for 125 hydrocodone pills made out to a Margaret White.

He would also testify that he didn’t have a patient with that name.

Testimony would also show that Drake used the words “test patient” in the doctor’s office computer, printed out the prescriptions and then attempted to delete the information, but it was able to be retrieved, Robbins said.

When Rice went to ask Drake about the prescription on March 6, she had left for her lunch break and did not return. Several days later, she called to apologize to him, Robbins said.

Rice would testify that the prescriptions were made out to 43 people whom he did not know, he said.

Testimony would also be heard that Drake was seen picking up the prescriptions in several store video surveillance tapes.

Farmington police Detective Marc Bowering would testify that he used surveillance videos from different pharmacies as part of his investigation, showing Drake or someone else picking up the prescriptions from various pharmacies in the region.

The cost of the drugs is $2,440, Robbins said.

Rice, who has a practice in Farmington, testified that Drake was respected and trusted, and she did a very good job in the medical practice.

There was one time when everyone in the office had to take a 10 percent cut in pay to help the practice continue, and Drake could not afford to take that pay reduction. So everyone else took the pay cut and allowed Drake not to take hers, he said.

“That is the kind of office we have,” Rice said.

The prescriptions to the 43 people represent more than 4,000 pills of the highest-strength Vicodin, he said.

He is well aware that prescription drug abuse is a big problem.

“This was devastating,” he said.

Every day, they have to make decisions on whether to give people these types of drugs, he said.

“This just doesn’t impact my office — it impacts the community and everybody around it,” he said.

He hopes that Drake gets the help she needs, he said.

Drake’s attorney, Walter “Woody” Hanstein, said that when this happened, Drake was in the throes of addiction.

She has done very well in her treatment, and she has been asked to help others who are facing similar issues, he said.

In all of his time as a lawyer, Hanstein said he was shocked by the amount of shame she feels.

She is doing everything she possibly can do to help others struggling with addiction, he said.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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