Texas's "Pill Mill" Pharmacist Faces Heavy Sentence For Opioid Operation
By Sherah Janay Ndjongo
September 16, 2023
A Texas pharmacist, Deanna Winfield-Gates, faced a Houston jury's conviction on Wednesday for her involvement in a notorious pharmacy operation. Health Fit Pharmacy, located in Houston, was described by the Department of Justice as a "pill-mill," where over 100,000 opioid pills were dispensed for cash.
Prosecutors contended that Health Fit Pharmacy distributed these drugs, often using fraudulent prescriptions under stolen doctor identities. Winfield-Gates, who worked as a relief pharmacist there, filled prescriptions for opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone, along with medications such as the muscle relaxer carisoprodol, the anxiety drug alprazolam, and promethazine with codeine.
The federal jury convicted Winfield-Gates of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances, a charge that could lead to a maximum of 20 years in prison. Her sentencing is scheduled for January 11, 2024.
Winfield-Gates represents the final defendant in this case, with three co-defendants previously pleading guilty to the conspiracy. This conviction serves as a significant step in addressing the opioid crisis and holding those responsible accountable for their actions.