PITTSFIELD -- A former physician assistant pleaded guilty Tuesday to 20 charges and was put on three years of probation for forging prescriptions in order to obtain oxycodone and other drugs, illegally writing prescriptions to coworkers, and using her insurance to pay for the pills.

In Berkshire Superior Court, Jennifer M. Stall, 30, of Chatham, N.Y., wiped away tears as she sat before Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder during her plea hearing.

According to Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano, Stall was working as a physician assistant at Berkshire Medical Center and as a paramedic for County Ambulance Inc., when she forged prescriptions for painkillers and wrote illegal prescriptions for Kevin Andrews, who was an operations manager for County Ambulance Inc., and a local nurse, Kristen Whiteley. The activity took place between March 14 and Aug. 30, 2011, according to Yorlano.

Andrews, 46, and Whiteley, 34, both of Pittsfield, are scheduled to be in court next Wednesday and are expected to take plea deals.

Yorlano asked that Stall be sentenced to two years in jail with one year to be served, followed by two years of probation with conditions that she remain drug-free and be randomly screened, among other requirements. Yorlano said Stall had abused her position and was "acting as a drug dealer" by illegally writing prescriptions.

According to Stall's attorney, Joshua C. Hochberg, his client had no criminal record and had begun "self medicating" because of the stress of her work and debilitating headaches.

Hochberg said Stall was never "impaired at work," was well-liked and respected by her coworkers, and had paid her own way through school.

Hochberg asked that the charges be continued without a finding of guilt for two years and that she be on probation during that time. He said she had already faced punishment by losing her jobs and giving up her physician assistant license. Hochberg said Stall had been proactive, seeking treatment and remaining drug-free.

Judge Kinder, citing Stall's "serious criminal conduct" and her abuse of "a position of trust," declined to continue the case without a finding of guilt, but didn't feel a jail sentence was appropriate.

Stall was sentenced to three years of probation. During that time, she must refrain from using illegal drugs, undergo random testing, be evaluated at a substance abuse facility with follow up treatment, and allow the probation department to monitor her progress.

The judge told Stall that if she didn't have any probation violations in the first two years of her probation, then it could be terminated early.

The investigation was conducted by investigators assigned to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Diversion Investigative Unit.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
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