Trinity Pharmacy in Carrollton, Texas, and one of its owners, Jonathan Paul Lipe, have agreed to pay the United States $400,000 to settle alleged violations of the Controlled Substances Act in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston.
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is the primary federal law regulating the distribution and availability of controlled substances. Strict compliance with the CSA is required in order to prevent, among other things, the unlawful movement of controlled substances into communities.
Prior to filing a lawsuit, the United States alleged that it had civil penalty claims against both Trinity Pharmacy and Lipe under the CSA for, among other things, failing to maintain required records, failing to secure controlled substances, and failing to file loss reports. According to the settlement agreement, the United States alleged that the CSA violations facilitated and enabled criminal conduct by Trinity Pharmacy’s prior pharmacist-in-charge, John Christopher Esparza. Esparza misappropriated Trinity Pharmacy’s controlled substances, including 3.1 kilograms of oxycodone powder, and has since pleaded guilty<https://www.justice.gov/usao-edtx/pr/former-north-texas-pharmacist-sentenced-federal-drug-trafficking-violations> to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance in violation of the CSA.
Trinity Pharmacy and Lipe agreed to pay $400,000 to resolve the civil allegations and have denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
As the United States Attorney’s Office announced<https://www.justice.gov/usao-edtx/pr/justice-department-announces-dea-prescription-drug-take-back-oct-22nd> regarding the recent National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, America is presently experiencing an epidemic of addiction, overdose, and death due to abuse of prescription drugs, particularly opioid painkillers. In 2015, approximately 6.4 million Americans aged 12 and over misused prescription drugs, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health-more than those that abused cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and methamphetamine combined. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States, eclipsing deaths from motor vehicle crashes or firearms.
“Today’s settlement puts on notice every entity and person with obligations under the CSA-including pharmacies and their owners-that the United States will not tolerate carelessness with controlled substances,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Featherston. “Prescription drug abuse is a deadly problem of epidemic proportions in our communities; people are dying every single day because of it. If you mishandle controlled substances or shirk your obligations under the CSA, expect a visit from us.”
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration Dallas Division, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Board of Pharmacy, the McKinney Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas. The settlement was negotiated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Russ. The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.