Former West Shore medical assistant convicted of writing, selling fake oxycodone prescriptions
DAUPHIN COUNTY — A former medical assistant for a West Shore doctor’s office was convicted by a Dauphin County jury for her role in leading a prescription fraud ring responsible for the distribution of nearly 15,000 oxycodone pills throughout Central Pennsylvania, according to the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office.
Saibel Rondon Villegas, 35, of Harrisburg, was convicted last on charges of criminal conspiracy and acquisition of a controlled substance by fraud after a two-day trial before Dauphin County Court Judge Scott Arthur Evans. The jury deliberated less than two hours before rendering its verdict.
Villegas was found guilty of using the doctor’s prescription paper without his knowledge. She sold forged prescriptions for oxycodone to her co-defendant, Sharde Chenault, during her employment as a medical assistant from June 2014 through March 2015, prosecutors say.
The prescriptions were made out to several people who were not patients of the doctor, but who had close ties with Villegas.
Chenault, who testified against Villegas at trial, said she bought the prescriptions from Villegas for $1,000 each and filled them at various Rite Aid pharmacies throughout the Harrisburg area.
When the pharmacy would call the doctor’s office to verify the prescription, Villegas would answer the phone and verify the names and dates of birth on the fake prescriptions.
During trial, Deputy District Attorney Ryan P. Shovlin, who prosecuted the case on behalf of the Commonwealth, explained that the evidence—while circumstantial—overwhelmingly indicated the defendant’s role in the conspiracy.
Shovlin presented post-it notes found in the defendant’s purse, one of which contained the names and dates of birth of the “fake patients” — that is, the individuals listed on the forged prescriptions.
Another post-it note contained Chenault’s cell phone number, which Shovlin emphasized as critical because Villegas denied knowing Chenault when interviewed by the police.
Shovlin also showed the jury text messages between Villegas and Chenault that were recovered from Villegas’s iPhone, in which the two discussed which prescriptions would be filled on which days.
Using scans of the prescriptions obtained from Rite Aid, Shovlin showed the jury how the text messages matched up with the dates the prescriptions were actually filled.
Villegas used the proceeds from the fraudulent prescriptions to fuel her lavish spending, purchasing multiple high-priced items such as $700 Louboutin shoes from Bergdorf Goodman.
“We hear a lot about how prescription opioid abuse has led to the current heroin epidemic we are facing,” Shovlin said. “Over the course of nine months, the defendant put 14,970 oxycodone pills out on the streets of the Harrisburg area. Think of what a devastating effect that would have, flooding the drug market with that many pills over such a short period of time. One can only imagine the number of people who got hooked on opioids as a result.”
Villegas is currently in Dauphin County Prison on $500,000 cash bail, and a sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 5, 2018. She faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.