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.
Patel is accused of ordering 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. It is estimated that these drugs would bring back over $160,000 if sold on the street. Matthew Barden, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock DEA, told reporters that prescription drug abuse is a serious problem not only in the area, but across the United States.
“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 told THV11. “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.”
Patel, Pagan, and 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.
Thyer has reported that the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System has fully cooperated with every step of the investigation. Two of the employees are no longer working with CAVHS while the remaining employee has been suspended indefinitely. The facility will continue to work with investigators until the end of the investigation.