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A man from Clackamas, Oregon was sentenced to federal prison today for handing out oxycodone pills from dozens of fraudulent prescriptions, one of which resulted in the death of Starlin Swan, a 26-year-old woman, from an overdose.
Mark Steven Gardner, 33, was sentenced by the Honorable Michael W. Mosman to 50 months of federal prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.
“The opioid epidemic killed more than 500,000 Americans. The death toll in this country is staggering and the tragic loss suffered by surviving family members is devastating. This charge represents our office’s firm commitment to holding accountable those who distribute unlawfully controlled substances that cause death, ”said Acting US Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug.
In November 2015, Gardner, a chiropractor, stole a prescription pad from a doctor with whom he shared his Portland office building. For the next four months, Gardner used the doctor’s name to forge fraudulent oxycodone prescriptions. Gardner directed others to fill out the prescriptions when he knew the doctor’s office he had access to was closed. Gardner would then walk into the doctor’s office, answer the doctor’s office phone, and pretend to be a doctor to verify the authenticity of the prescriptions when contacted by pharmacies. The people filling out the prescriptions would normally give Gardner half of the pills received.
On January 8, 2016, Gardner called 911 to report that a friend was unresponsive. Paramedics came on site and found Ms. Swan dead. A subsequent autopsy and toxicological examination revealed that Ms. Swan had died of an oxycodone overdose.
On the afternoon before Mrs. Swan’s death, Gardner forged a prescription for 90 tablets of 30 mg oxycodone each. The prescription was filled out the same day, although the pharmacy only bottled it for 60 oxycodone pills.
In total, Gardner forged 48 prescriptions for 25 different recipients, including some scripts written after Ms. Swan’s death from an overdose. A total of 2,352 30 mg oxycodone tablets were fraudulently distributed based on Gardner’s scheme. After the discovery of the forged scripts, Gardner’s chiropractic license was revoked.
On May 15, 2019, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a three-count charge against Gardner accused of distributing oxycodone, resulting in death; Distribution of oxycodone; and acquiring or obtaining a controlled substance through false information, fraud, counterfeiting, fraud or deception. On April 19, 2021, he pleaded guilty to the unlawful distribution of oxycodone.
Source: Oregon US Attorney