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Prescription Fraud Charges to Grand Jury

In March, Fairfax County police charged a Centreville woman with 10 counts of manufacturing false prescriptions. And last week in General District Court, all 10 charges were sent to the grand jury for possible indictment.

The woman is Marie Mulholland, 45, of Fairfax National Estates. In a March 1 affidavit for a warrant to search her home, police Pfc. Jason Reichel presented details of the case against her.

He wrote that he responded to a medical practice in Centreville for a report of an alleged prescription fraud by a patient there. According to Reichel, a nurse told him that she was contacted Feb. 14 by Thong Tran, a licensed pharmacist at the Shoppers Food Warehouse (SFW) pharmacy on Multiplex Drive in Centreville.

He stated that Tran wanted "to confirm the validity of a prescription brought in by Mulholland" on Feb. 12. "Tran told [the nurse] that the prescription appeared to be a photocopy of a prescription and the doctor's validating signature did not appear authentic," wrote the officer.

The nurse explained that physicians in her medical practice now give computer-generated prescriptions with the doctor's signature. But if a doctor orders a narcotic for his or her patient, the doctor must again sign the prescription in ink to validate it ā€” making it easily distinguishable to a signature on a photocopy.

Checking Mulholland's medical record, the nurse confirmed that, after examining the Centreville woman for back pain, Dr. Jeffry Waldman wrote her two prescriptions for a particular narcotic, on Dec. 17, 2004 and on Jan. 27, 2005. Reichel wrote that the first prescription was filled Dec. 30 at the SFW pharmacy.

However, according to the affidavit, Tran reportedly found "a third prescription, which allegedly had been written on Jan. 10 and filled on Jan. 21 at the SFW pharmacy. [The nurse] informed [Reichel] that their practice has no record that a prescription had been given to Mulholland on that date by Dr. Waldman."

The officer wrote that the nurse then called the CVS pharmacy on Pickwick Road in Centreville and reportedly learned that "Mulholland had the same three prescriptions for the same narcotic dated Dec. 17, Jan. 10 and Jan. 27 filled on Dec. 19, Jan. 21 and Feb. 7, respectively."

Reichel stated that the nurse provided him with faxed copies of the prescription from both the SFW pharmacy and the CVS pharmacy. She also described what Mulholland looked like. The officer also spoke in person with Tran at SFW, as well as with Trinh Vu, the CVS pharmacist, and Tran, too, gave him a description of Mulholland.

"Since Mulholland had already presented fraudulent prescriptions at two area pharmacies in close proximity to the doctors' office, [I] responded to several other pharmacies in the area to ascertain if they, too, had similar incidents involving Mulholland," wrote Reichel. And indeed, he stated, Mulholland allegedly had the same, three, dated prescriptions filled at the Giant Foods pharmacy on Stone Road in Centreville and at the Safeway pharmacy on Westfields Boulevard in Centreville.

The officer also noted that two of the prescriptions filled at Giant were photocopies, and all three of the prescriptions filled at Safeway were photocopies. And, he wrote, two Safeway pharmacists, plus Tran from SFW, reportedly identified Mulholland in a photo lineup as the person who'd had those prescriptions filled at their pharmacy.

Reichel wrote that Waldman said Mulholland has been one of his patients for about six years. On the afternoon of March 1, police executed the search warrant at her home and seized a combination of full and empty pill bottles. That same day, they charged Mulholland with 10 counts of manufacturing false prescriptions.

She was released on personal recognizance and, after some delays, she appeared last Monday, July 18, in General District Court. At that time, she waived her right to a preliminary hearing, and Judge Ian O'Flaherty then certified all 10 charges to the grand jury.

Each charge is punishable by as much as five years in prison ā€” meaning that, if convicted and each charge was run consecutively to the others, Mulholland could be sentenced to decades behind bars. However, it's unlikely that she'll receive such a stiff penalty, since her attorney Bill Reichhardt has already reached a plea agreement with the prosecution on her behalf.

He declined to reveal any specifics of the agreement, but O'Flaherty set Oct. 18 as the tentative date for Mulholland to enter her plea. Reichhardt said the agreement was "in recognition of the fact that she's a chronic-pain patient, she's receiving treatment and she's done extremely well in very difficult circumstances."

Noting that his client has "no prior criminal record," Reichhardt called the whole thing "an extremely sad situation of a person who's suffered for many years with serious pain."