Former CEO of Little Rock Diagnostic Clinic Pleads Guilty to Drug Charge

by Mark Friedman  on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 11:50 am  

The former CEO of the Little Rock Diagnostic Clinic waived an indictment and pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. Federal Court to one count of obtaining hydrocodone by fraud.

James Derek Johnston, 42, of Hot Springs obtained the drug on Feb. 8 by filing a fake prescription to a pharmacy, according to the news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Little Rock. He will be sentenced at a later date and faces up to four years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and one year of probation.

But under the terms of his plea agreement, sentencing guidelines suggest a sentence of no more than six months in federal prison.

(Click here (PDF) for the case information, and click here (PDF) for the plea agreement.)

Between October 2008 and July 2012, Johnston filled more than 150 prescriptions and received about 25,000 hydrocodone pills as a result of his fraud, the news release said.

"These prescriptions were written by the nurse in Johnston’s name without the knowledge or consent of the initial prescribing physician at LRDC," the news release said. "Johnston admitted that the nurse who wrote the fraudulent prescriptions was an employee whom he supervised."

The nurse, who wasn't named in the news release, no longer works at the clinic. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on the nurse's status because it's an ongoing investigation.

During a hearing Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright, Johnston admitted that he started obtaining from a doctor at the clinic legitimate prescriptions for hydrocodone in 2007 because of a back injury.

"However, beginning in fall of 2008, and continuing until July 2012, Johnston caused a nurse employed by LRDC to either fax or call in prescriptions for hydrocodone to a number of drug stores in Little Rock," the news release said.

After the plea, Johnston was released on bond and was ordered to submit to drug testing, treatment and counseling under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office.



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