All four former employees of a Hilo physician raided by authorities in October 2018 for overprescription and illegal distribution of opioid prescription painkillers and other narcotics have pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in the case.
Yvonne Caitano, an employee of Dr. Ernest Bade, pleaded guilty Oct. 8 in U.S. District Court in Honolulu to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and conspiracy to acquire and obtain possession of a controlled substance “by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception and subterfuge.”
Caitano entered her plea without a plea bargain in place, according to federal court documents. Sentencing has been scheduled 2:15 p.m on Feb. 6 before Judge Helen Gillmor.
Theresa Saltus, another Bade employee, pleaded guilty Oct. 31 to a single count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, oxycodone.
Saltus is scheduled for sentencing at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 before Gillmor. According to the plea agreement, she faces a term of imprisonment of up to four years and a fine of up to $250,000.
Caitano, 55, and Saltus, 60, were originally accused — along with Caitano’s 33-year-old daughter, Sheena Strong, and Caitano’s 81-year-old mother, Marie Benevides — of obtaining Schedule II and IV controlled substances, including oxycodone, hydrocone, morphine, fentanyl, carisprodal and alprazolam.
Federal prosecutors said the women flew to Maui to obtain large quantities of the prescription painkillers after Hilo pharmacies stopped filling Bade’s prescriptions. The four women collectively obtained more than 10,000 30 mg oxycodone pills between September 2016 and the raid by federal agents on Bade’s Osorio Lane office on Oct. 16, 2016, according to court documents.
A 14-year-old living with Caitano was made to assist Caitano in distributing pharmaceuticals and collecting payment and would be verbally and physically abused if the transactions were irregular, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Court documents state the minor furnished the DEA with specific details of Bade’s operation.
Bade, 81, was charged with 40 counts of unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances, but charges against him were dropped in June after Gillmor ruled Bade is incompetent to stand trial, based on a court-appointed psychiatrist’s report that concluded the former general practitioner suffers from dementia.
Bade’s license to practice medicine was forfeited in June, according to the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs website.
Strong pleaded guilty Sept. 13 to a single count of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute Schedule II and IV controlled substances. She could face up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $1 million, but her sentence likely will be more lenient because she agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Benevides pleaded guilty in May to a single count of conspiracy to acquire or obtain possession of Schedule II and IV controlled substances “by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.” She faces a sentence of up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, but prosecutors are recommending probation when she is sentenced by Gillmor at 2:15 p.m. on Jan. 2.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald