A second of four former employees of a Hilo doctor raided by authorities last October for alleged overprescription and illegal distribution of opioid prescription painkillers and other narcotics has made a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
According to a plea agreement memorandum filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, Sheena Strong pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute Schedule II and IV controlled substance, including hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl, carisoprodal and alprazolam.
She is scheduled to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 16, 2020, before Judge Helen Gillmor.
Strong could face up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $1 million, but the deal would afford her an unspecified more lenient sentence for her agreement “to testify truthfully at any and all trials, hearings or any other proceedings at which the prosecution requests her to testify including … proceedings involving co-defendants and others charged later in the investigation, sentencing hearings, and related civil proceedings.”
Strong, then 32, was indicted last October after federal agents raided Dr. Ernest Bade’s office on Osorio Lane in Hilo. Also indicted was Bade, then 80; Strong’s mother, Yvonne Caitano, then 54; Strong’s grandmother, Marie Benevides, then 80; and Theresa Saltus, then 59.
The plea agreement states the four women “obtained medications at two pharmacies on Maui for approximately eight different people.” It added that Strong “provided false information to the pharmacists on Maui in order to avoid suspicion … including giving a false Maui address and falsely stating that she was related to some of the individuals for whom she was filling prescriptions.”
According to the document, most of the prescriptions “included high quantities of opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.”
The women traveled to Maui because Hilo pharmacies stopped filling Bade’s prescriptions.
Bade was charged with 40 counts of unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances, but charges against him were dropped in June after Gillmor ruled Bade is incompetent to stand trial, based on a court-appointed psychiatrist’s report that concluded the general practitioner suffers from dementia.
Benevides pleaded guilty in May to a single count of conspiracy to acquire or obtain possession of Schedule II and IV controlled substances “by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.” Although she faces a sentence of up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, prosecutors are recommending probation in her case.
She originally was to have been sentenced last Friday, but her sentencing was rescheduled for Jan. 2, 2020.
Caitano and Strong are still scheduled to stand trial before Gillmor at 9 a.m. Nov. 6.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.