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Case Number: 4:19-cr-00605
Judge: Lee H Rosenthal
Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Harris County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Houston
Defendant's Attorney: Lance Hamm
Description: Houston, Texas criminal defense lawyer represented the Defendant charged with running a pill-mill pharmacy that unlawfully dispensed over 100,000 opioid pills in exchange for cash.
From January 2014 to January 2018, Deanna Winfield-Gates, 54, of Houston, was a relief pharmacist at Health Fit Pharmacy (Health Fit), a cash-only, pill-mill pharmacy. Health Fit dispensed controlled substances to drug traffickers in exchange for hundreds of dollars, often based on prescriptions that were fraudulent and issued in the names of physicians whose identities were stolen. Winfield-Gates filled large volumes of cookie-cutter prescriptions for the opioids hydrocodone 10-325mg and oxycodone 30mg and for carisoprodol, alprazolam, and promethazine with codeine, often in combination, knowing these controlled substances were likely to be diverted or abused.
The jury convicted Winfield-Gates of one count of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 11, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Winfield-Gates was the last-remaining defendant charged in this case. Three co-defendants previously pleaded guilty to the conspiracy.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani for the Southern District of Texas, and Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Houston Field Division made the announcement.
The DEA investigated the case.
Trial Attorneys Drew Pennebaker and Courtney Chester of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
"Conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances is a serious crime that can result in significant penalties, including imprisonment. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is a federal law that regulates the manufacture, distribution, and dispensing of controlled substances. The CSA defines a controlled substance as a drug or other substance that has been determined to have a potential for abuse and addiction.
Conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances is a violation of the CSA. To be convicted of conspiracy, the government must prove that you:
Entered into an agreement with another person to unlawfully distribute or dispense controlled substances.
Knew that the agreement was to distribute or dispense controlled substances.
Intended to carry out the agreement.
The penalties for conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances vary depending on the specific facts of the case. However, the penalties can be severe, including:
Imprisonment for up to 20 years.
Fines of up to $1 million.
If you are facing charges of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options and can represent you in court.
Here are some of the factors that the court will consider when sentencing a person convicted of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances:
The quantity of controlled substances involved.
The type of controlled substances involved.
The person's role in the conspiracy.
The person's criminal history.
The person's ability to pay a fine.
If you are convicted of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances, it is important to take steps to rehabilitate yourself. This may include participating in drug treatment programs, getting a job, and staying away from people who use controlled substances. By taking these steps, you can increase your chances of avoiding future criminal problems."
Outcome: Defendant was found guilty by a jury.