Linda Masse, a Licensed Practical Nurse, pled guilty in Schenectady County Court to one count of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, a Class D Felony, with a sentence of felony drug court. Masse also agreed to surrender her nurse practitioners license.
Linda Masse was a licensed practical nurse at Women’s Health Care Associates in Latham, New York for a physician who specialized in obstetrics and gynecology. It was revealed that from March 2014 to approximately April 2015, Linda Masse used eighteen forged prescriptions from her employer’s medical practice in order to obtain hydrocodone and oxycodone from various pharmacies, including Walmart and CVS. For each prescription, Masse would obtain large amounts of narcotics- varying from 40 to 180 pills. Hydrocodone and oxycodone are Schedule II controlled substances meaning that the drugs have a high potential for abuse, therefore restricting the use of those drugs. Masse obtained over 2,000 pills of hydrocodone and oxycodone, which were paid for by Medicaid. Masse committed Medicaid fraud by unlawfully issuing prescriptions in her name and forging a physician’s signature.
The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Attorney General’s Office conducted an investigation, which revealed that Masse’s former employer, Women’s Health Care Associates, did not release the prescriptions to Masse. The physician did not have any knowledge Masse had presented stolen prescriptions from her employer’s practice to Walmart and CVS pharmacies that were issued in her name with the physician’s forged signature. The physician was aware that Masse was a Licensed Nurse Practitioner at the physician’s practice and stated that Masse had access to prescription pads through her employment at the practice.
Attorney General Schneiderman stated medical professionals may not abuse the trust and privileges afforded to them through their licenses. A.G. Schneiderman further stressed that forgery and Medicaid fraud will not be tolerated and that his office will not permit Medicaid to cover the costs of drugs and medication illegally acquired.
An essential element of the crime of criminal possession of a forged instrument is knowledge by defendant that instrument is forged. (McKinney’s Penal Law § 170.25) A person is guilty of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree when, the person has knowledge that the instrument is forged and has the intent to defraud, deceive or injure another, he possesses any forged instrument. [N.Y. Penal Law § 170.25 (McKinney)] Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree is a class D felony.
Accordingly, Linda Masse was found guilty of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree because she had both the knowledge that the prescriptions were forged and she intended to use the forged prescriptions in order to deceive others. Masse stole the prescriptions without her employer’s consent and then filled them out in order to obtain numerous amounts of hydrocodone and oxycodone. Additionally, Masse had the intent to use the forged prescription to deceive, as she stole the prescriptions for the purpose of deceiving the pharmacies in order to obtain narcotics. Masse intended to use the forged prescriptions to deceive and defraud another person and did in fact do so.
Appropriately, Masse pleaded guilty to Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the 2nd Degree, a Class D Felony.
N.Y. Penal Law § 170.25 (McKinney)