Pharmacist pleads guilty to lying about filling opioid prescriptions

Darien Pharmacy received more than 1 million dosages of opioids in 2 years

A federal judge presiding over a historic civil lawsuit in Ohio against drug distributors, pharmacies and retailers for their roles in the opioid crisis on Thursday denied a motion to step down on grounds he has shown bias. (Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images via CNN)

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – A South Georgia pharmacist is facing up to five years in prison after admitting that she lied about filling prescriptions for doctors who were prescribing high volumes of opioids and other controlled substances.

Janice Ann Colter, 62, of Darien, entered a guilty plea to false statements relating to health care matters, according to Bobby Christine, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. In addition to prison time, Colter faces three years of supervised release and substantial fines and restitution.

"As the opioid crisis has burned across our nation, unethical medical professionals have poured fuel on the raging fire of addiction," Christine said. "Our office will continue to vigorously prosecute drug dealers who hide behind white coats while profiteering from their greed."

Colter was the pharmacist-in-charge of Darien Pharmacy, which received more than 1 million dosage units of highly addictive opioids from its suppliers between 2015 and 2017. As part of her guilty plea, Colter admitted to lying about filling prescriptions written by high-volume prescribers of opioids and other controlled substances.

According to court documents and testimony, those prescribers included Dr. Frank Bynes Jr., of Savannah, who was recently convicted in U.S. District Court on multiple counts of unlawful dispensation of controlled substances and health care fraud, and other physicians located as far away as Florida.

Colter, along with Darien Pharmacy, also is a defendant in a federal suit filed in August, seeking civil penalties for filling prescriptions for controlled substances that she "knew or should have known were not issued for legitimate medical reasons and by a provider not acting within the regular course of professional practice," according to the suit.

"This pharmacist misled her suppliers to keep open a pipeline to prescribers who were doling out massive amounts of addicting controlled substances," said Robert Murphy, DEA special agent in charge of the Atlanta field office. "Ms. Colter was not only reckless with regard to the many patients she served, but she also violated the trust of the community she served."

About the Author: