Portland's 'pill mill' nurse sentenced for opioid ring
The woman behind an infamous "pill mill" opioid distribtion ring has been sentenced, federal prosecutors say.
Portland resident Julie Ann DeMille, 60, was sentenced Tuesday, March 26 to 48 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release for illegally distributing prescription opioids, filing a false tax return and lying to federal agents.
"Our nation is drowning in substance abuse," said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. "DeMille risked the lives of hundreds to turn a profit."
In January 2015, DeMille opened Fusion Wellness Clinic on Southeast 122nd Avenue — conveniently located across the street from the Multnomah County Parole and Probation Office.
According to court records, she wrote thousands of prescriptions for opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. Prosecutors argued in court that DeMille planned a move from Houston, Texas to Portland as early as 2013.
The reason? Nurse practitioners can prescribe pills without the oversight of a doctor here. DeMille ended up moving to Portland in 2014 and taking a job with one of Multnomah County's public-funded health clinics, though authorities say she planned to subsidize her income "from the beginining."
Word spread of her business, which eventually relocated to a larger storefront on Northeast 101st Avenue. Soon, she drew the attention of the Oregon State Board of Nursing. In one instance, three of her customers tried to fill prescriptions "together" for 30mg doses of oxycodone. The pharmacist called the police.
In 2015, DeMille met with the nursing board, but her lies led the investigators to issue a letter of concern but not pursue disciplinary action.
"In a typical day at the clinic, DeMille saw up to 20 patients, charging each $200 in cash," according to a news release. "In 2015, the clinic generated at least $388,000 in revenue, none of which was reported on DeMille's income tax return."
In 2015, the Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program found that DeMille wrote more than 1,940 prescriptions for controlled substances in that year. These prescriptions resulted in the distribution of more than 219,000 pills. About 96 percent of them were opioids, according to the drug monitoring data.
DeMille pleaded guilty on December 12, 2018. Co-conspirator and former Fusion Wellness Clinic manager Osasuyi "Ken" Idumwonyi pleaded guilty in February, 2017, and still awaits sentencing for conspiring to distribute or dispense and possessing with intent to distribute or dispense.
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)