NY: Nurse Practitioner Sentenced to 70 Months for Unlawful Drug Distribution

Danielle Simonson, age 52, of Fort Ann, New York, was sentenced today to 70 months in prison for distributing controlled substances outside the course of professional practice and for no legitimate medical purpose.

United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman; Special Agent in Charge Frank A. Tarentino III, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division; and Special Agent in Charge Naomi Gruchacz, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations, made the announcement.

In previously pleading guilty, Simonson admitted that from at least January 2020 through October 2022, she unlawfully prescribed controlled substances to a total of 54 patients.  Simonson issued hundreds of unlawful prescriptions, including for the opioids hydrocodone and oxycodone, benzodiazepines (clonazepam, diazepam, and lorazepam), and the stimulants amphetamine (e.g. Adderall) and methylphenidate.  For instance, Simonson admitted that she issued a total of 63 oxycodone prescriptions to two residents of Suffolk County, New York, without treating either of them for a medical condition. The Suffolk County residents usually paid Simonson by mailing her packages of cash concealed within DVD cases.

United States District Judge Anne M. Nardacci also imposed a $10,000 fine and ordered Simonson to serve a 2-year term of supervised release following her term of imprisonment. Simonson has already surrendered her nurse practitioner and nursing licenses to the State of New York, and surrendered her DEA registration (which had allowed her to prescribe controlled substances).

In a separate civil settlement agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Simonson admitted that she improperly prescribed controlled substances to 105 patients (including the 54 listed in her criminal plea agreement), often without ever examining patients and maintaining medical records justifying her decision to prescribe controlled substances. Simonson paid $200,000 to settle claims that the United States could have brought against her pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act.

The DEA and HHS-OIG investigated the criminal case, with assistance from the New York State Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Barnett prosecuted the criminal case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Moran represented the United States in the civil matter.

Press Release


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