LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – Three Veterans Affairs employees have been charged with conspiring to steal and sell prescription medications from the VA John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital, according to a release from Christopher Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Satishkumar “Steve” Patel, Alisha Pagan, and Nikita Neal are charged with conspiracy to steal prescription medication and conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and hydrocodone, according to Thyer. Patel is facing four additional charges of possession with intent to deliver oxycodone. Pagan is also facing one count of possession with intent to deliver oxycodone.
“This case is an example of government employees using their position of trust to not only steal from the taxpayers of Arkansas, but also to poison the communities we live in with dangerous drugs,” Thyer said.
According to Thyer, Patel had ordered “4,000 oxycodone pills, 3,300 hydrocodone pills, 308 ounces of promethazine with codeine syrup, and more than 14,000 Viagra and Cialis pills” through the VA’s account. These drugs are worth a total of over $160,000 on the street.
Matthew Barden, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock DEA, said that prescription drug abuse is a serious problem.
“For the health and safety of our citizens, DEA will continue to target the illegal diversion of these pharmaceuticals, which can result in the tearing apart of families and the destruction of individual lives,” Barden said. “It is particularly egregious when the perpetrators of such illegal acts are health care professionals responsible for ensuring that potentially dangerous drugs are dispensed properly.”
The Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System released a statement saying that they have fully cooperated with every step of the investigation. They also said that two of the employees are no longer working with CAVHS and one is suspended indefinitely.
“Inappropriate, unethical, and criminal behavior is not tolerated at CAVHS,” said Dr. Margie Scott, Medical Center director in a released statement. “We are continuing to work with authorities.”