WA: Richland Medical Doctor Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl, Oxycodone and Other Controlled Substances

Joseph H. Harrington, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Dr. Janet Sue Arnold, age 63, of Benton City, Washington, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute opioid pain medications (specifically, fentanyl, oxycodone, methadone, hydromorphone, methylphenidate, and amphetamine mixture) and other controlled substances (carisoprodol and alprazolam), without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice.

Dr. Arnold faces a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years. United States District Judge Edward F. Shea accepted Dr. Arnold’s guilty plea and scheduled a sentencing hearing for December 7, 2021, at 1:15 p.m. in Richland, Washington. Dr. Arnold is the final defendant to plead guilty in the case. Four other defendants, Danielle Corine Mata, age 44, of Richland, Washington, David Barnes Nay, age 43, of Kennewick, Washington, Lisa Marie Cooper, age 55, of Prosser, Washington, and Jennifer Cheri Prichard, age 46, of Prosser, Washington, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute opioid pain medications and other controlled substances, and are scheduled to be sentenced on October 19, 2021, November 2, 2021, and November 9, 2021, in Richland, Washington.

According to court documents and information disclosed during court proceedings, Dr. Arnold owned and operated Desert Wind Family Practice, at 431 Wellsian Way in Richland, Washington. Beginning in approximately March 2016, and continuing until May 3, 2017, Dr. Arnold pre-signed hundreds of blank prescription forms and provided them to Mata, Prichard, and Cooper, who were drug addicts. These individuals then provided the illegal prescriptions to individuals seeking opioids and other controlled substances or used the prescriptions to get their drugs of choice. Dr. Arnold allowed Mata, who also acted as Desert Wind Family Practice’s office manager, to fill in all the required prescription information (patient name, drug type, dosage, and quantity) on the pre-signed blank prescriptions. Dr. Arnold’s practice of pre-signing blank prescription forms enabled the conspirators, including Nay, a drug dealer and addict, to distribute significant quantities of opioid medications and other controlled substances.

Acting United States Attorney Joseph H. Harrington said, “Dr. Arnold abandoned her role as a medical doctor by essentially turning over her prescription pad to her office manager and others. Today’s guilty plea should serve as a warning to all medical professionals that if you abuse your medical license by prescribing opioids and other drugs without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice, you will be held accountable. I commend the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, agents who investigated this case.”

This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of the Inspector General. This case is being prosecuted by George J.C. Jacobs, III and Dominique J. Park, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.

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