Trio plead not guilty in Pittsfield illegal prescription drug scheme
PITTSFIELD -- A former physician's assistant, an emergency medical technician and a nurse implicated in a scheme to illegally obtain prescription drugs have all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
On Thursday in Berkshire Superior Court, Jennifer M. Stall, 30, pleaded not guilty to 20 charges, including eight counts each of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance and making a false health care claim, and was released on personal recognizance.
Stall, a former physician's assistant who lives in Chatham, N.Y., allegedly wrote prescriptions she was not allowed to for Kevin Andrews, the operations manager for County Am bulance Inc., and a local nurse, Kristen Whiteley. According to law enforcement officials, Stall was also writing prescriptions for herself and getting others to write them for her between March 14, 2011, and Aug. 30, 2011.
Stall formerly worked for Berkshire Health Systems and County Ambulance Inc. In January she voluntarily surrendered her medical license, according to the state Health And Human Services website.
She is being represented by attorney Richard D. LeBlanc, and is scheduled to be back in court in February for a pretrial conference. When reached by phone LeBlanc said it was too early in the case for him to comment.
Whiteley, 34, a registered nurse for Berkshire Health Systems from Pittsfield, was also arraigned on Thursday and pleaded not guilty to a single count of attempting to fraudulently obtain a controlled substance.
Her attorney, William A. Rota, said his client's case was just "a tiny part of a much larger investigation," that Whiteley has fully cooperated with the investigation and hopes for "a reasonable resolution" to the case "in the near future."
Andrews, 46, of Hinsdale, was arraigned on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to 19 charges, including nine counts each of making a false health care claim and fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance.
The attorneys for the nurse and the EMT say their clients are not guilty of wrongdoing and have cooperated fully with the investigation.
Judge John Agostini released both Whiteley and Andrews on personal recognizance and both are scheduled to be back in court in February.
Andrews' attorney, Timothy J. Shugrue, said his client had a legitimate back problem and received prescription pain medication through Stall, who as a physician's assistant, was legally able to write the prescriptions.
"She also gave him a referral for physical therapy and a chiropractor," said the attorney.
Shugrue said Andrews has fully cooperated with the investigation by the state Department of Public Health and agreed to a nine-month suspension of his paramedic certification after the allegations surfaced and is working toward getting his certification back.
The attorney questioned why the indictment came close to a year and a half after the DPH investigation. "It came out of nowhere," said Shugrue.
This was echoed by Rota, who said Whiteley had hoped the incident was behind her.
The investigation was conducted by In vestigators as signed to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Mas sachusetts State Police assigned to the Diversion Investigative Unit.
The Massachusetts State Police wouldn't comment on the case.
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