EMT gets year's probation, continuation in drug case

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PITTSFIELD -- A local emergency medical technician and paramedic whom prosecutors say conspired with two other medical professionals to obtain fraudulent prescriptions for painkillers had 19 criminal charges that had been filed against him continued without a finding of guilt for one year.

Kevin W. Andrews, 46, of Hinsdale, appeared before Berkshire Superior Court Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder on multiple charges of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance and making a false health care claim, and a single charge of conspiracy to utter a false prescription.

According to Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano, former physician assistant Jennifer M. Stall, 30, of Chatham, N.Y., illegally wrote Andrews nine prescriptions for the painkillers Vicodin and Oxycodone between March and August 2011, which he then had filled and helped pay for through his insurance. Stall and Andrews worked together at County Ambulance Inc., where Stall was a part-time paramedic and Andrews was the operations manager.

Stall, who pleaded guilty to 20 charges earlier this month, is currently on three years of probation and has voluntarily surrendered her license as a physician assistant.

Andrews' attorney, Timothy J. Shugrue, said his client had a legitimate back problem and that Andrews believed he was receiving the drugs legally from Stall.

"She also gave him a referral for physical therapy and to a chiropractor," the attorney told the court.

According to Shugrue, his client had cooperated with the investigation by the state Department of Public Health, stepped down as operations manager at County Ambulance Inc., agreed to a nine-month suspension of his licenses as an EMT and a paramedic and had been willing to testify against Stall at trial. Andrews has since gotten both licenses back, said his lawyer.

Yorlano told the court that Andrews was "abusing drugs," and had taken "a large amount of narcotics" over that five-month period in 2011.

He asked that Andrews be required to plead guilty to the charges and receive a year's probation.

Shugrue said his client was not an addict, hadn't used any painkillers in more than a year and had no criminal record. He asked for a six-month continuation without a finding.

The judge ordered Andrews to serve a year of probation during which time he must refrain from using illegal drugs and agree to be randomly drug tested.

He warned Andrews that drug use "can be a slippery slope" and that if he violated probation Andrews could be sentenced up to the maximum prison term. The most serious charge, making a false health care claim, carries a maximum of five years in state prison.

A third co-defendant in the case, Kristen Whiteley, 34, a registered nurse for Berkshire Health Systems from Pittsfield, had a single count of attempting to fraudulently obtain a controlled substance dismissed by the DA's office.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
aamelinckx@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6249.
On Twitter: @BE_TheAmelinckx


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