The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

July 18, 2012

Former Carthage jail counselor pleads guilty to illegal drug scheme

CARTHAGE, Mo. — A Carthage counselor who provided psychological services to jails in Jasper and Newton counties pleaded guilty today to federal charges of helping illegally distribute $1.5 million in prescription drugs.

  Tammy L. Neil, 42, also pleaded guilty to charges related to money laundering through a clinic where she and her former husband, Dr. John Freitas, issued the prescriptions. Her trial was scheduled Aug. 20 in U.S. District Court at Springfield.

  In her plea, she admitted  to dealing the drug phentermine from Jan. 1, 2005, through March 26, 2008.

  Phentermine is an amphetamine-based controlled substance often used to assist in weight loss.

  Federal officials said that Neil dispensed  the drug without a license to do so. She was a licensed professional counselor, but that license does not authorize prescription writing, authorities said.

 The money laundering counts charged that she and Freitas deposited more than $1.5 million in various bank accounts from the illegal prescription business.

 She has agreed to forfeit $200,000 along with a car and an airplane the government alleged was derived from the prescription scheme.

 Neil could face up to 24 years in prison and fines of up to $750,000. Her sentencing date will be scheduled after a background investigation is completed by the U.S. Probation office, according to a news release issued by U.S. Attorney David M. Ketchmark.

Neil and Freitas were divorced in December 2007, and she received the clinic in the divorce settlement. Freitas moved to Florida before the DEA seized the clinic’s records in June 2008. He committed suicide in February 2010.

They also had distributed the pain medication hydrocodone at the clinic.

 

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