Memphis Commercial Appeal
Memphis woman forged names to obtain opioid prescriptions, authorities say
By Phillip Jackson
September 25, 2019
A Memphis woman was indicted and a local physician pleaded guilty in an Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force investigation, federal officials announced Tuesday.
Erin Pealor, 35, attempted to obtain methylphenidate and amphetamine by filling out prescriptions with fake patient names and signed the signature of the physician, according to court documents.
Pealor had filled out at least nine names describing them as patients from Nov. 7, 2017, to Feb. 13, 2018, according to court documents.
Memphis physician Michael Hellman pleaded guilty in July to one count of distribution of a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
Hellman issued at least one prescription for oxycodone on Feb. 7 and more than 400 prescriptions for promethazine with codeine in his Collierville office from January 2018 to April 2019 outside the scope of his usual medical practice and without a legit medical purpose, court documents say.
Hellman was first indicted in April along with three other Memphis medical professionals: Thomas Hughes, Richard Farmer and James Litton.
Hughes, 69, is a licensed endocrinologist who was facing nine counts of illegally dispensing testosterone to himself.
Farmer, an East Memphis psychiatrist, was accused of prescribing hydrocodone and alprazolam, or Xanax, to female patients in exchange for sexual favors or their companionship.
The Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force was started in 2018 in a joint law enforcement effort to address fraud medical practices. The strike force includes the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for nine federal districts in five states.