A Pike County man faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court on Feb. 14 to charges of distribution of codeine and health care benefit fraud.

According to court documents, Howard Keith Fuller, of Raccoon, pleaded guilty to two counts — one count of distribution of codeine and one count of health care benefit fraud — related to incidents which prosecutors say occurred while Fuller was working as a pharmacist at the Rite Aid Pharmacy at McCarr.

According to a plea agreement in the case, in 2016 and 2017, while employed at the pharmacy, Fuller illegally dispensed and distributed various drugs to co-workers, as well as his wife, Kimberly Gail Fuller, without a valid prescription being prescribed or issued by the reported prescribing physician.

The agreement said Howard Keith Fuller issued the fraudulent prescriptions in the name of a Matewan, West Virginia, physician. However, the agreement said, the physician had not issued the prescriptions and had no knowledge that the prescriptions were being issued in his name.

Also, the agreement charges, Howard Keith Fuller, aided and abetted by Kimberly Fuller, executed a scheme to defraud health care benefit programs by means of false and fraudulent pretenses.

“... By illegally issuing and filling the prescriptions ... and entering the information into the pharmacy’s dispensing and point-of-sale systems, (Howard Keith Fuller) knew that these systems would submit claims to Kimberly Fuller’s insurance provider for payment for these prescription drugs, even though no valid prescriptions had been issued,” the agreement said.

In the agreement, prosecutors wrote that Howard Keith Fuller is believed to be responsible for the distribution of 1,200 total dosage units of Schedule III and Schedule IV controlled substances. In connection with the health care fraud, the agreement said, Howard Keith Fuller is responsible for a loss amount of nearly $16,000.

The agreement said that each of the charges to which Howard Keith Fuller pleaded guilty carries a maximum 10 year sentence in prison. There are also terms of supervised release possible at the end of any sentence, as well as possible fines totaling $750,000.

Two others also indicted in the case are awaiting trial.

A co-worker of Howard Keith Fuller’s — Samantha Moore — is facing a charge of theft of a pre-retail medical product by an agent/employee in the supply chain. Kimberly Fuller is facing charges of health care benefit fraud and federal benefit fraud.

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