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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Washington doctor pleads guilty to illegally distributing fentanyl, other controlled substances

A Richland doctor pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, opioid pain medications such as fentanyl and other controlled substances. The doctor faces up to 20 years in prison.

Dr. Janet Sue Arnold, 63, a Benton City, Washington, resident who practiced in Richland, is the final defendant to plead guilty in the case involving four other defendants, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Washington.

Arnold owned and operated Desert Wind Family Practice in Richland. Prosecutors alleged that, beginning in March 2016, Arnold regularly presigned “hundreds” of blank prescription slips for drugs like fentanyl and oxycodone without a legitimate medical reason, thus allowing the other defendants to fill them despite their suffering from drug addictions.

Arnold’s sentencing is scheduled Dec. 7 in Richland, according to the news release.

The others charged in the case included Desert Wind’s then-office manager Danielle Corine Mata, 44, from Richland, who prosecutors say filled the presigned slips with prescription information on the drug type, dosage, patient name and quantity.

David Barnes Nay, 43, from Kennewick, as well as Lisa Marie Cooper, 55, and Jennifer Cheri Prichard, 46, both from Prosser, Washington, were also charged in the case. Nay is suspected to also have been drug-dealing, according to the news release.

Mata, Nay, Cooper and Prichard previously pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute opioid pain medications and other controlled substances. They will have their sentencing hearings in October and November.