BUCKHANNON — A Buckhannon woman who signed her physician husband’s name to prescriptions for hydrocodone and tramadol was sentenced to five years probation in Upshur County Circuit Court Monday.
Teresa Khan, 56, was indicted by a grand jury in September for 13 felony counts of obtaining a controlled substance by means of fraud forgery and deception. Ten of the counts involved Khan acquiring hydrocodone and three involved Khan acquiring tramadol, all with a forged prescription.
Khan pleaded guilty to one count and admitted to obtaining hydrocodone by forging her husband’s signature on a prescription.
During the plea hearing, Khan told the court that she had a knee replacement and had fallen and had “a tremendous amount of pain.”
“I obtained these prescriptions on my own,” she said. “I didn’t ask a doctor. No one helped me really. I did it.”
Khan later said that she didn’t write the prescriptions.
“I merely signed them,” she said.
Prosecuting attorney David Godwin said, “She did have somebody else at the office fill out the prescription and she signed Dr. Khan’s name without Dr. Khan’s knowledge. The other person worked at the office and claimed to believe that Mrs. Khan was going to take them to Dr. Khan.”
Godwin said there would be no case pursued against the other party.
Khan told the court, “I think I knew [it was wrong] but with the bipolar I was able to make an excuse that I truly believed.”
During the hearing, it was discussed that Khan had recently been diagnosed with bipolar II.
Khan waived her right to a pre-sentence investigation and the hearing moved into the sentencing phase.
Godwin said he recommended alternative sentencing.
“I don’t know Mrs. Khan personally,” he said. “I really don’t think there is anything a report would reveal that would call into the question the wisdom of giving her probation.”
Godwin suggested five years but if Khan could deal with her addiction satisfactory, an earlier release could be agreed on.
“She hasn’t violated her bond,” he said. “She is addressing her issues that caused this sequence of criminal conduct.”
Khan’s attorney Karl Kolenich called three witnesses to the stand.
Allison Andrews, a physician assistant at Community Care of West Virginia, began seeing Khan as her provider two months ago and described some medical issues Khan has.
“Currently, we are trying to manage some of pain with no opioid medications,” Andrews said.
Andrews said she felt taking Khan outside of her treatment plan would be detrimental.
John Johnson testified that he met Khan when be was referred to her husband’s clinic for cardiac treatment and it was Khan who administered the cardiac treatment over two sessions of about 10 to 12 weeks each.
She was very helpful with me,” he said. “She was very professional and understood the problems.”
Johnson said he got to know Khan outside of the clinic setting on some social occasions.
“I think she has a very excellent character,” he said. “The contact I have seen with her and other people and patients has been the upmost professional. I never had any problem at all with her character. At this time, I feel that she understands now what the problem is and she can receive treatment now and get over it.
Denise Straight met Khan when she had her son as a kindergartner.
“She was very impressive,” Straight said. “She was compassionate and always willing to give for the kids.”
Nothing Khan’s involvement in the community, Straight said, “She is a big asset. I just knew if she was in charge of it, we were in gooood shape. She really is an amazing person and she has been struggling with something for pain and she is just receiving treatment. She definitely is a large asset to our community.”
For her part, Khan told the court, “I know I have hurt my family. I have hurt my friends and hurt the community. This is not something I intended. It’s just something that happened. I knew I felt better. I apologize to the court and I apologize to my husband and my son. With the diagnosis that I have recently gotten, I am making an effort to be a better person for my family, my friends and the community.”
Kolenich noted that Khan had accepted responsibility.
“Before the charges were filed, she voluntarily went to the police and confessed,” he said.
The attorney noted Khan had started therapy, lacked a criminal history and had no issues with drug screenings.
Judge Kurt Hall said, “Mrs. Khan, you’re not jail material. You’re not prison material.”
He sentenced Khan to one to four years in prison but suspended that sentence and placed her on probation for five years. The judge also ordered Khan to perform 80 hours of community service for each year of probation and to not work in any setting where she would be around prescription medicine.
Khan said she has not worked at her husband’s office since Aug. 2.
Hall said, “Don’t feel you are a failure. A lot of people wonder how in the world, this could happen to me. Count yourself lucky that all you got out of this was a felony and five years probation.”
The remaining 12 counts which included the same offense on Aug. 29, Sept. 25, Oct. 12, Nov. 14, Dec. 20, 2017 and Jan. 19, Feb. 19, March 19, April 10 and the May 17, June 18 and July 23 counts that involved tramadol instead of a prescription for hydrocodone were dismissed.
Also Monday, Connor McCauley, 28, of Buckhannon, pleaded guilty to delivery of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, a felony. McCauley had also been indicted for two counts of delivery of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, in the September term of the grand jury.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, the state dismissed the remaining count and will also dismiss the bound over cases of grand larceny and petit larceny.
McCauley has agreed to pay $500 to the victim, his father Mayor David McCauley, and be fully debriefed as to what he knows about the items.
As for the delivery of a controlled substance, meth, charge, McCauley told the court, “I had a friend get ahold of me and ask if I can find some meth for her. I said I could. I did and she came and picked it up for $50.”
That friend turned out to be part of a controlled buy operation.
McCauley admitted in the courtroom that he had been using meth and was “probably” under the influence at the time of the offense.
Hall accepted the plea and set sentencing for Jan. 16.
The state will recommend an alternative sentence but McCauley could face one to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
McCauley’s attorney, Brian Bailey asked for a bond reduction of his $40,000 surety and $10,000 personal recognizance noting his client had been in jail for about 90 days.
Godwin said he wouldn’t object to lowering the bond.
“If nothing else, it has served as a detoxification period,” Godwin said. “I would hate for him to get back into addiction before we can accomplish moving him into a rehab or drug court.”
Hall set a post conviction bail of $2,500 personal recognizance and ordered McCauley to report to community corrections after he posts bail.
“This is your chance to demonstrate to me whether or not you are going to get an alternative sentence,” he said. “I can just about guarantee if you foul up, what is going to happen. You will get a bad result.” Joseph M. Wagner, 36, of Buckhannon, reached a plea agreement with the state.
Wagner had been indicted in September for two felonies – possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver methamphetamine and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver for remuneration, marijuana.
Wagner’s attorney, James Hawkins, said the agreement outlines that Wagner will plead guilty to possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor, a lesser included offense under count one of the indictment.
The state in turn will ask for a sentence of six months incarceration with credit for time served since his incarceration in July 2018. Wagner will also pay court costs.
Prosecuting attorney David Godwin noted the strength of the evidence available and the small amount of methamphetamine located, 2 grams. There were a number of people in the residence where the methamphetamine was found.
“There were phones seized but the police never got them processed so if there is any evidence there I’m not prepared to go forward with that,” he said. “I think this is an appropriate resolution.”
Hall asked Wagner what happened on July 17, 2018 to provide a factual basis for his plea. Wagner explained that three days prior had been his birthday and there was methamphetamine left over from that.
“The parole officer came in and found it,” he said. “I told them that was mine.”
Hall accepted Wagner’s plea to the misdemeanor and sentenced Wagner to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. Wagner has one year to pay the fine.
“I don’t know what else I can do to you,” Hall said. “If that’s throwing the book at your, Mr. Wagner, that’s what I am going to do. You have caused a lot of people a lot of trouble and you probably caused at least $1,000 of trouble.”