Dr. who? Woman admits to fraudulently using doctor's identity to forge prescriptions, obtain meds
PITTSFIELD >> Lisa Barde took extraordinary steps to avoid prosecution on charges of forging prescriptions and illegally obtaining medication using them.
Those steps included creating a Yahoo! email address for a doctor who wasn't treating her, forging psychological evaluations claiming she wasn't fit to stand trial and leaving an outgoing voicemail message on her phone, informing the caller they'd reached a doctor's office.
Barde, 37, admitted to all of that and more Thursday when she pleaded guilty to 28 charges in Central Berkshire District Court.
Barde's attorney, Lisa S. Lippiello, called Barde's life a "living hell" during the nine months she's been subjected to GPS monitoring and a curfew while awaiting disposition of the case.
Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Dana Parsons, who prosecuted the case, called Barde's actions, "thoughtless" and "selfish" and said she put people's careers in jeopardy by submitting forged documents, claiming they were genuine.
Parsons asked the court to focus less on the anxiety from which Barde suffers and more on the anxiety she's caused.
Lippiello noted the difficulties the detention caused Barde and her family, including missing opportunities to attend her children's school and sports functions and inability to attend church.
"She's essentially been jailed in her own home," Lippiello said.
Lippiello asked Judge Michael Ripps to consider an 18-month suspended sentence and probation rather than subject her client to jail time.
"A suspended sentence frightens her enough to be compliant with probation conditions," Lippiello said.
She said Barde suffers from mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder, but has rehabilitated herself in last nine months and is doing well.
"She's in her own hell; she's had punishment," Lippiello said.
Parsons said Barde has already received leniency from the court in two prior cases involving illegally procuring drugs, both of which were continued without findings and showed, "no care for what she is doing to all of these other people."
Ripps said he felt the fraud was the more alarming issue in the case over the phony prescriptions and drug-seeking.
Ripps said Barde had been, "Attempting a fraud on the entire justice system."
"Attempting to corrupt our system is a major issue, I think," Ripps said. "It requires a jail sentence."
Ripps sentenced Barde to nine months in jail less 60 days of time already served in custody, and two years of probation.
Barde admitted to passing and faxing phony prescriptions and calling pharmacies identifying herself as a doctor in order to obtain drugs beginning in October 2014.
During the investigation into those charges, Parsons was provided with faxes that appeared to be psychological evaluations from a Dr. Arlene Nock.
The evaluation stated Barde did not have the capacity to understand the proceedings against her and would never be competent to stand trial.
The document goes on to claim Barde's short-term memory was impaired due to permanent retrograde amnesia following a third round of electroconvulsive therapy in January, 2015.
The document said Barde was a long-term patient at Four Winds Hospital from December 2014 through late August 2015 and had been drug-free since Dec. 30, 2014.
A closer examination of the documents showed the phone number provided was not the proper number for the Saratoga Springs-based hospital.
A call to the number provided was answered with a voice message indicating the caller had reached a private counseling office for Nock.
Last August, Parsons called the correct number for the hospital and was told Dr. Nock had not worked at the hospital for months and was now working at a VA hospital in Albany, N.Y.
When reached, Nock said she did not write the evaluation in question and Barde was not a patient of hers.
Nock also confirmed the email address provided on the evaluation — firstname.lastname@example.org — was not hers nor did she write any emails to the DA's office from that address.
Investigators obtained subpoenas for the phone number and email address listed in the evaluations and traced both back to Barde's home address in Pittsfield.
Barde pleaded guilty to 12 counts of uttering a false prescription 10 counts of obtaining drugs by fraud and two counts each of attempting to commit a crime, identity fraud and intimidation of a witness.
While on probation, Barde must remain free of drugs not prescribed to her and submit to random screenings, limit herself to using only one pharmacy, submit to GPS monitoring and continue with mental health treatment and counseling.
Ripps agreed to Lippiello's request to have the sentence stayed for one week.
Ripps warned Barde if she failed to appear "straight and sober," next week or got into any further legal trouble in the meantime, he reserved the right to revoke her sentence and give her a harsher one.
"I hope this is all behind you," Ripps said. "I'm confident that it is."
Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.
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