A New Haven certified nurse’s assistant is facing up to three years in prison after agreeing to plead guilty to her role in a prescription-drug scam, part of a case that offers a glimpse into the workings of the opioid “dark web.”
The nurse’s assistant, Jimiesha McCoy, agreed in a U.S. District Court proceeding Tuesday morning to plead guilty to a single felony count. McCoy was indicted on 35 counts of distribution of narcotics without legitimate medical purpose in August 2019. Her sentencing is scheduled for March 30.
As part of her plea deal, McCoy can expect between 24 and 37 months of imprisonment, a minimum of three years of strict supervision upon her release, and a fine of between $10,000 and $1,000,000.
Between March 2018 and March 2019, McKoy and a medical resident, Jennifer Farrell, who has since left Yale New Haven and currently lives in North Carolina, conspired to collect and distribute between 24 and 25.8 grams of oxycodone, according to the plea agreement. The disputed attributable opioid quantity did not prove consequential because both values fall within the same level of offense.
The only remaining discrepancy in the plea deal pertains to the level of participation; McKoy maintains that she was a “minor participant,” a claim that the Government disputes. The disagreement will be resolved by the court before McKoy is sentenced in late March.
The Break: A “Motorcycle Crash”
Starting in March 2018, the resident took advantage of a technical loophole in Yale New Haven’s mobile prescription system to illicitly prescribe oxycodone without her supervisor’s permission to patients who she had never seen and who had no reason to be taking the medication. Over the course of the following year, McKoy became involved in the scheme, both paying Farrell to prescribe her the drug and giving some of the pills she was prescribed back to the resident. McKoy also provided Farrell with contact information for other patients she could write illegal prescriptions for.
Ultimately, authorities caught on after McKoy picked up an oxycodone prescription that the resident had written in the name of a third person, “C.T.,” who was not aware of the conspiracy.
C.T. received a mobile notification that her oxycodone prescription to treat a “motorcycle crash” was ready to be filled, despite the fact that she had no reason to be taking the drug and had never ridden a motorcycle.
When C.T. went to the York Street Walgreens to inquire, she was told that someone else had already picked up the pills for her. The resident tried to convince C.T. to fabricate a story about her medical history to justify being prescribed the drug. Instead, C.T. contacted the police.
According to an affidavit submitted by FBI Special Agent Daniel Curtin, over the next few months, investigators both discovered that Farrell had illegally prescribed oxycodone on 35 occasions and later intercepted a package addressed to the resident containing fentanyl pills. Farrell admitted that along with conspiring with McKoy to obtain and distribute oxycodone through the illegal prescriptions, she had ordered approximately 13 packages containing narcotics from the dark web. The resident has not yet entered a plea deal.
Working To Get Straight
Jimiesha Renae McKoy, 31, was born in New Haven and has lived here ever since, earning certification as a certified nurse assistant and working in the medical field.
Since her 2019 indictment, McKoy attended a 10-month program at Virginia Wells, a local transition house for women, where she received mental health treatment. Her attorney, James Glasser, reported that although McKoy’s program at Virginia Wells ended two months ago, and she had consistently earned outstanding reports from the staff there. Three days after she was released to a third-party custodian, McKoy began an adult education program to complete her GED. She is currently working at a Dunkin Donuts outlet and is in the application process for another job at a care facility.
At the end of Tuesday morning’s hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Meyer granted a motion for continued terms of release, which will allow McKoy to stay with these jobs until she is sentenced in late March.
Over the course of an hour, Judge Meyer meticulously went through every section of the plea agreement, explaining that by pleading guilty, McKoy would be waiving her rights to a trial and lose her ability to appeal the sentence. The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Cherry, stated that should McKoy decline the plea agreement and elect to pursue a trial, the government would be prepared to present substantial evidence. The evidence included texts between C.T. and McKoy after C.T. discovered that McKoy has been picking up her oxycodone prescriptions; phone records between McKoy and the Farrell; medical and pharmacy records, video records from the pharmacy, and testimonies from numerous witnesses, medical residents, pharmacists, and law enforcement officials.
McKoy answered every question with a simple “Yes, Your Honor,” before signing the plea agreement.
The only people in the courtroom were Judge Meyer, McKoy, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cherry, and Attorney Glasser of Wiggin and Dana LLP on Church Street, McKoy’s legal counsel. All other staff were in attendance over Zoom.
The final disclosure of McKoy’s pre-sentence report is to be submitted by March 12, and the sentencing is scheduled for March 30 at 10 a.m.