On January 11, 2022, a Maryland nurse practitioner pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and dispense oxycodone and one count of distribution and dispensing of oxycodone.
According to the guilty plea of Justina Aburime, age 53, of Bowie, Maryland, from February 2017 to February 2020, she conspired with others, including Thomas Charles Johnson, to distribute and dispense oxycodone outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose at Personal Touch Medical Spa, LLP (“PTMS”), a Largo, Maryland pain management clinic. As licensed and registered nurse practitioners under the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the State of Maryland, Aburime and Johnson were legally authorized to prescribe controlled substances for legitimate medical purposes.
During her employment with PTMS, Aburime wrote oxycodone prescriptions without a legitimate medical need and outside the scope of professional practice. Aburime allowed an unauthorized person to write oxycodone prescriptions using her medical credentials. Specifically, Aburime allowed PTMS’s owner—who was not authorized to prescribe controlled substances—to prescribe oxycodone to individuals using pre-signed blank prescriptions bearing Aburime’s name and DEA registration number.
In some instances, Aburime was traveling outside the United States at the time of treatment or did not see the patient who was prescribed oxycodone using her credentials. Further, Aburime agreed that she prescribed oxycodone to patients when there was no legitimate need and without considering alternative treatment options. Aburime also agreed that she increased oxycodone dosage over time without a medical justification.
Co-defendant Thomas Charles Johnson, Jr. pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone on October 28, 2021 and is scheduled to be sentenced today at 12:00 p.m.
Aburime faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison followed by up to a lifetime of supervised release for each count. U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis has scheduled sentencing for April 26, 2022 at 1:00 p.m.
According to an eight-count indictment announced in March 2021, from February 2017 to February 2020, Joyce Shawanda Edwards owned and operated PTMS, formerly known as Holistic Health and Wellness Medical Spa LLP, a purported “pain management” clinic located in Largo, Maryland, which the indictment alleges was, in reality, a “pill mill.” A pill mill is a health care provider’s office, clinic, or health care facility that routinely prescribes and dispenses controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.
The indictment alleges that Aburime and Johnson pre-signed blank prescriptions, allowing Edwards to issue prescriptions for oxycodone under their names. Further, the indictment alleges that even though Edwards was not authorized to prescribe controlled substances, she wrote and issued prescriptions for oxycodone using blank prescriptions that Edwards signed under the name of a nurse practitioner. Edwards allegedly issued prescriptions for controlled substances at times when a nurse practitioner was not present and did not see the patient, including on dates when Aburime and Johnson were out of town.
If you were harmed as a result of the misuse or abuse of medications that were prescribed for you in Maryland or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Maryland medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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