Six veterans sentenced for selling drugs at VA rehab clinic

January 22, 2013
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A federal judge issued a prison sentence Friday to the last of five veterans who pleaded guilty last year to selling prescription drugs at a Veterans Affairs drug-treatment clinic.

The medications, which included powerful painkillers and drugs used to treat addictions to those substances, often came from the same Bedford, Mass.-based VA medical center where the dealers sold the pharmaceuticals to fellow veterans, according to a news release from the Justice Department.

“Any crime that takes advantage of of the men and women who have served this nation is deplorable,” U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in a statement. “It is even more deplorable when individuals prey on the weaknesses of recovering U.S. veterans.”

Steven Jakaitis, 50, who was sentenced Friday to 15 months in federal prison for distributing buprenorphine and conspiracy to sell oxycodone, received the most severe sentence among the veterans who pleaded guilty.

David DeJesus, 52, received three years’ probation for distributing heroin; Scott Houtchens, 50, was given three years’ probation and a fine of $250 for distributing buprenorphine; David Porterfield, 45, was sentenced to two years’ probation for distributing clinazepam; David Robson, 53, received five years’ probation for distributing and conspiracy to distribute oxycodone; and Allen Nickerson, 52, received two years’ probation for distributing buprenorphine.

The charges against the men resulted from a coordinated investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs police.

Jeffrey G. Hughes, a special agent in charge of the investigation for the Veterans Affairs inspector general’s office, issued the following statement Friday: “Veterans who have served our country deserve a safe place to heal and recover without being preyed upon by those who want to unlawfully profit from the sale of their own VA prescriptions.”

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Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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Josh Hicks | January 22, 2013