NEWBURYPORT — A West Newbury man avoided jail time last week after admitting he used fake prescriptions to acquire at least 1,000 painkillers and stimulants over a 10-month period from pharmacies across Greater Newburyport and southern New Hampshire.
James W. Whitmyer Jr., 46, of Donovan Drive, West Newbury, was sentenced last Wednesday to 2 1/2 years in a house of correction with 92 days deemed served by Newburyport District Court Judge Peter Doyle. All remaining jail time was suspended for two years while Whitmyer remains on probation.
Whitmyer was charged with six counts of both uttering a false prescription and obtaining drugs by fraud and two counts of submitting a false health care claim.
The charges stem from prescriptions that were being filled starting in November 2011 and ending in August 2012. Massachusetts State Police believe he fraudulently obtained roughly 1,300 Adderall and morphine tablets in their state alone. That total does not count his activities in New Hampshire.
On the same day, Whitmyer also pleaded guilty to possession of ammunition without a firearms identification card and violating an abuse prevention order. Like the drug charges, Whitmyer was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail, but will avoid jail time if he adheres to probation conditions issued by Doyle during sentencing. Two other weapons charges and a criminal harassment charge were dropped as part of his plea agreement with prosecutors.
According to court documents, state police were called to investigate the possibility that Whitmyer had stolen a blank prescription from from a North Reading medical practice and had been filling controlled substance prescriptions in pharmacies across southern New Hampshire, including in Plaistow, Derry, Concord, Hampton, Raymond and Salem. New Hampshire State Police informed Massachusetts authorities that he was doing the same on the other side of the border.
Massachusetts State Police investigator Kristine O’Neill checked a state database of pharmacies related to the dispensing of controlled medications and determined that Whitmyer had been filling prescriptions for Adderall, a class 2 substance, and the painkiller morphine, in Newburyport, Amesbury as well as Haverhill, Methuen, Lawrence and North Andover. Other bogus prescriptions were filled in a Georgetown pharmacy.
Adderall is used to treat attention deficit hyperactive disorder and attention deficit disorder, while morphine is in the same family of drugs as heroin.
The state police investigator visited more than a half-dozen pharmacies in area communities and obtained the prescriptions as evidence. The investigator determined that Whitmyer paid for many of the prescriptions in cash, but in two instances used his insurance provider to pay for the drugs. Whitmyer was eventually arrested last September by New Hampshire State Police for passing a fraudulent prescription in Stratham, N.H., according to court records.
Among the conditions imposed by Doyle were that Whitmyer submit to GPS monitoring with some exclusion zones, remain drug and alcohol free with random screens, not possess firearms or ammunition, not abuse the victim and pay $50 in court costs.
The weapons charges stem from an incident that took place inside the garage of his West Newbury home.