Maryland woman pleads guilty to forging prescriptions in the name of a cardiologist

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A woman in Maryland pleaded guilty on Feb. 25 to federal charges that she illegally obtained controlled substances and participated in healthcare fraud.

Claire Elizabeth Rice, 68, admitted that she presented and filled 91 forged prescriptions in the name of a practicing cardiologist from 2008 to 2013. She was never a patient of the physician, according to federal authorities. Rice entered her guilty plea in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Rice received the prescriptions for oxycodone and other drugs from Novella White, 53, a co-defendant and former employee of the cardiologist. The physician said White did not have the authority to write prescriptions for herself or Rice.

White, who is also known as Novella Brown, has denied her role in the scheme. She is charged with presenting forged prescriptions for oxycodone and other drugs in her own name. A jury trial is set for April 18.

Authorities said that Rice billed the forged prescriptions to Express Scripts and Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which were defrauded the costs of filling the prescriptions.

Rice is scheduled for sentencing on June 3 and faces up to four years in prison for conspiracy and up to 10 additional years for the healthcare fraud scheme. She has agreed to pay $16,175, which was her share of the illegal proceeds obtained from Express Scripts and Blue Cross and Blue Shield.