Jury Finds Physician Assistant Guilty of More Than 40 Drug-Related Charges

Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Friday, February 10th, 2017
A Virginia jury found physician assistant Melissa Lynn Hartwell guilty of 42 drug-related charges after deliberating for 3 and a half hours.

The 41-year-old worked as a physician assistant at the weight loss clinic MTRx in Bristol, Tennessee, which was owned and operated by Marvin Allen Stanley and his wife Tracey Michelle Stanley, according to the Bristol Herald Courier.

During the trial––held at the US District Court in Abingdon––evidence showed that Hartwell allowed the Stanleys to use her DEA registration number to order and dispense phentermine to patients whom Hartwell had never examined.

Phentermine is a Schedule IV controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act, and is similar to amphetamine, according to the Department of Justice.

Although Hartwell typically only worked on Mondays and Fridays, she would sign off on patient charts to indicate her approval of the dispensed phentermine, despite never having examined these patients.

Furthermore, Hartwell and the Stanleys would allow nonemployee Norma Jean Marsh (AKA Trixie) to fill out patient charts and both obtain and deliver phentermine to her friends and acquaintances, according to the Herald Courier.

Marsh, a registered nurse, would visit MTRx once or twice a week to fill out patient files for friends and acquaintances located in the Saltville area, before providing them with phentermine. Several of these individuals were never seen as patients at the clinic, according to the Herald Courier.

Hartwell was found guilty of 1 count of conspiring to distribute a controlled substance, 1 count of conspiracy to allow the use of her DEA registration number by another person, 20 counts of distributing phentermine, and 20 counts of allowing the use of her DEA registration by another person.

Both the Stanleys and Marsh previously pled guilty to their roles in the conspiracy.

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