CLEARFIELD – A local pair – including a former medical physician assistant practicing with an expired registration and license – is accused of conspiring in a prescription drug scheme.
Dennis Lee Lingle, 60, of Clearfield was charged by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General with felony counts of conspiracy – acquire or obtain possession of controlled substance by misrepresentation; acquire or obtain possession of controlled substance by misrepresentation; conspiracy – administration, etc. of controlled substance by practitioner; and administration, etc. of controlled substance by practitioner.
Holly Jean Hipps, 41, of Olanta was also charged with felony counts of conspiracy – acquire or obtain possession of controlled substance by misrepresentation; acquire or obtain possession of controlled substance by misrepresentation; conspiracy – administration, etc. of controlled substance by practitioner; and administration, etc. of controlled substance by practitioner, three counts.
Hipps waived her right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday during centralized court. Her bail remains set at $25,000 unsecured.
Lingle waived the charges against him to court, with exception to administration, etc. of controlled substance by practitioner, which was withdrawn. His bail remains $50,000 monetary, which he’s posted.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, on Jan. 17, 2017, an AG narcotics agent was informed by a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion investigator that an anonymous complaint had been received at the Pittsburgh office.
Hipps was allegedly writing controlled substance prescriptions after the expiration of her DEA registration and her Pennsylvania medical license.
She was assigned her license as a medical physician assistant for Oct. 15, 2002 through Dec. 31, 2016, which hasn’t been renewed. She was originally assigned a DEA registration that was replaced on Jan. 17, 2014. However, the most recent registration expired Oct. 31, 2016 and also hasn’t been renewed to date.
On Feb. 8, 2017, the agent obtained a court order for access to the Pennsylvania Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). It permitted review of the controlled substance prescriptions filled under the authority of Hipps between Jan. 1, 2016 and Feb. 8, 2017.
The data reviewed indicated two prescriptions had been dated and filled after the expiration of Hipps’ DEA registration. A Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen prescription was allegedly dated and filled Nov. 1, 2016 and an Oxycodone prescription was dated and filled Nov. 11, 2016.
On March 31, 2017, an investigator for the Pennsylvania Department of State Licensing Boards informed the agent about another anonymous complaint.
It alleged Hipps had written Schedule II controlled substance prescriptions to a female who wasn’t Hipps’ patient at the Caring Healthcare Network in Philipsburg.
The agent obtained from PDMP the names of all patients who filled Schedule II controlled substances under the prescribing authority of Hipps during 2016. The names were forwarded to an administrative assistant with the practice to determine if anyone listed had ever been a patient there.
On April 18, 2017, the agent was informed that three individuals hadn’t been a patient of the Caring Healthcare Network. The same day, the agent interviewed a nurse from the medical practice.
She said she and Hipps had previously worked together at the Discovery House in Clearfield and more recently at the Caring Healthcare Network. She said Hipps had written her prescriptions, and she wasn’t a patient and only a co-worker.
Hipps kept a prescription pad in her purse. On it was Hipps’ home address, a printed and crossed out DEA number and a different, handwritten DEA number, she told the agent.
The agent subsequently obtained copies of two prescriptions at the Wal-Mart Pharmacy in Clearfield. Both were issued by Hipps to the nurse; they were dated and filled Jan. 11, 2016 for Ambien and Xanax, both of which are Schedule IV controlled substances.
On April 28, 2017, the agent obtained a copy of a Xanax prescription filled at the CVS Pharmacy in Philipsburg. It had been called in and filled July 17, 2014 for the nurse under the prescribing authority of Hipps.
On June 15, 2017, the agent interviewed a male friend of Hipps. He had been experiencing pain from a recent vehicle accident, and Hipps allegedly offered to write him a prescription for pain medication.
He said he obtained two or three prescriptions from Hipps, including one for Percocet. He filled the prescriptions at Rite-Aid Pharmacy in Clearfield.
The agent obtained the PDMP data for two prescriptions. Both were from Hipps and on prescription paper displaying her home address and with her old DEA number crossed out and the most recent in writing.
The first prescription was dated Sept. 1, 2016 and filled the next day for Oxycodone/Acetaminophen. The second was dated and filled Oct. 10, 2016 for Oxycodone.
On May 4, 2017, the agent interviewed a second male who said he obtained prescriptions from Hipps at the pain clinic (Caring Health Network) in Philipsburg.
When he was told he received his prescriptions before she worked at the clinic, he said he may have obtained them from her medical office located near the Clearfield Sapp Bros. Truck Stop.
He couldn’t recall where he obtained his last prescription from Hipps, which was dated Nov. 16, 2016. However, he said he’d been obtaining prescriptions from Hipps since 2008.
The agent found a prescription was dated and filled Nov. 16, 2016 at Shankel’s Pharmacy in DuBois. The prescription was for Oxycodone and displayed Hipps’ home address with her DEA number crossed out and her most recent in writing.
Between Sept. 5, 2014 and Oct. 8, 2016, 25 of the 26 prescriptions from Hipps for the male had been filled at Grattan’s Pharmacy, according to the affidavit. The agent obtained copies of seven prescriptions filled there between May 21, 2016 and Oct. 8, 2016.
The May 21, 2016 prescription was written from Caring Healthcare Network. The remaining prescriptions were written on paper displaying Hipps’ home address with the DEA number crossed out and the most recent in writing.
On May 10, 2017, the agent interviewed the program director of the Discovery House, Clearfield. He was advised Hipps had been employed there from 2003 to 2005 and from Nov. 16, 2009 to Sept. 15, 2014. The director advised that no narcotics are prescribed by their medical staff.
On May 26 and July 14 of 2017, the agent interviewed a female. During the second interview, she said she was a long-time friend of Lingle. Every few months, the female said he would ask her to go to Grattan’s Pharmacy with him.
Lingle allegedly provided her a prescription already filled out in her name and cash to pay for it. She filled the prescription and provided him with the pills.
Between Feb. 17, 2015 and Aug. 15, 2016, seven Oxycodone prescriptions were authorized by Hipps for the female and filled at Grattan’s Pharmacy.
The agent obtained copies of the prescriptions. The prescription, dated May 11, 2016, was written from the Caring Healthcare Network. The other six were written on prescription paper displaying Hipps’ home address with her DEA number crossed out and the most recent in writing.
The agent interviewed a male on June 16 and July 21 of 2017. During the second interview, he said he’d done some work for Lingle, who asked him to fill prescriptions for him. Initially, he refused but eventually did at the Wal-Mart pharmacies in Clearfield and DuBois.
The Oxycodone prescriptions were allegedly from Hipps and already filled out when Lingle gave them to him. The male said the last prescription filled for Lingle was at the Brockway Drug Store, and he’d never met Hipps.
The agent obtained PDMP data, which had record of 29 Oxycodone prescriptions authorized by Hipps and filled in the male’s name between Dec. 8, 2011 and July 18, 2014.
Additionally, data showed that between Sept. 27, 2011 and Aug. 23, 2016, 37 Oxycodone prescriptions had been filled for Lingle’s wife, all of which were authorized by Hipps; nine were filled at the Rite-Aid Pharmacy between Dec. 19, 2014 and Aug. 23, 2016.
On July 27, 2017, the agent obtained copies of the prescriptions. Eight of nine prescriptions from Hipps displayed the name of Lingle’s wife. The prescriptions displayed Hipps’ home address with her DEA number crossed out and the most recent in writing.
The ninth prescription, dated April 4, 2016, was written from the Caring Health Network. Pharmacy staff members recognized Lingle in a photograph and indicated he picked up the prescriptions.
Records showed that between Dec. 19, 2014 and Aug. 2, 2016, prescriptions had only been filled for Lingle’s wife.
On July 12, 2017, the agent interviewed Hipps. She said that Lingle asked her to write pain prescriptions to him but in his wife’s name. She initially refused, she said, but later complied with his request.
She admitted to writing prescriptions in other names for Lingle. She also recalled writing prescriptions in the other individuals’ names.
The agent found Hipps didn’t have any medical records for Lingle or his wife. When shown photographs of other people, she didn’t recognize any of the individuals.
When shown copies of prescriptions for a male friend, she said they looked like hers. When shown copies written for the nurse, she said she had written them, they weren’t for a patient and she didn’t have any medical records.