Three Veterans Affairs employees have been accused of stealing prescription medications from a Little Rock veterans hospital, according to a news release.
Satishkumer “Steve” Patel, 44, of North Little Rock, Alisha Pagan, 33, of Mabelvale, and Nikita Neal, 42, of Little Rock, were indicted on drug-related charges Wednesday, a news release from United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Christopher Thyer said.
Thyer said in the release that the three, who worked at the VA John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock, used their positions to obtain the drugs.
In June 2016, the Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General found that large numbers of prescription medications were being charged to VA accounts, but the medications were unaccounted for, the release said.
The office investigated and found that Patel, who was a pharmacy technician, was able to "order and divert" 4,000 oxycodone pills, 3,300 hydrocodone pills, 308 ounces of cough syrup and over 14,000 Viagra and Cialis pills, according to the release. This cost the VA almost $78,000, the release said.
Investigators from the inspector general’s office and the Drug Enforcement Administration found that Patel gave some of the medications to Pagan, another pharmacy technician, who gave some to Neal, a technician-in-training, according to the release.
“This case is an example of government employees using their position of trust to not only steal from the taxpayers of Arkansas, but also to poison the communities we live in with dangerous drugs,” Thyer said in the release. “Curbing the illegal distribution of opioids continues to be a primary focus for my office, and it is particularly troubling when the crime is being committed by people in the health-care industry.”
Patel, Pagan and Neal have been charged with conspiracy to steal and distribute the drugs, according to the release. In addition, Patel has been charged with four counts of possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, Thyer said in the release. Pagan was charged with one count of possession with intent to deliver.