Arizona woman charged calling in fake prescriptions under multiple names to various pharmacies

Arizona News

Composite image with background photo by Ofc Picture/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — An Arizona woman has been charged with multiple felony counts of identity theft after she was arrested at a pharmacy in Hurricane, where officers found her waiting to have a prescription filled. Police say she called in the prescription herself.

Brianna Renee Espinoza, 23, of Glendale, Ariz., booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, June 23, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St George News

The case stems from a prescription fraud investigation after authorities were contacted by two pharmacies in St George reporting that prescriptions were called in by a suspect reportedly posing as an employee of a physicians office, but that later turned out to be fraudulent, according to charging documents filed with 5th District Court. 

Officers reached out to both pharmacies and were told that a woman named “Lindsey” had called in prescriptions for a controlled substance at each of the businesses, and according to police, the suspect provided a physician’s name and DEA number, acting as though she was calling from the doctor’s office.  

The suspect also provided a different name and date of birth for each prescription, names which officers later discovered belonged to actual people. They also determined that the DEA number provided by the suspect was assigned to a licensed physician.

Shortly after, detectives in St. George learned of a similar case under investigation in Hurricane after officers there received a call from a pharmacy reporting that a suspect called in a prescription for a controlled substance and provided the same patient and physician information presented to both pharmacies in St. George. 

In that case, officers in Hurricane responded to the pharmacy after they were notified that the suspect who allegedly called in the prescription was still inside of the store waiting for the medication to be filled. 

Police arrived and located the suspect, 23-year-old Brianna Espinoza, of Glendale, Arizona, and police say she admitted during an interview that she picked up the two prescriptions earlier in St George. She said she did so at the request of someone else, an individual who asked her to pick up medication from a number of pharmacies. 

The suspect went on to say the other person had paid her to call the medications in to the pharmacies using the physician information provided and then to pick the prescriptions up once they were filled. 

Espinoza also told police she suspected that the individual directing her activities was “abusing the medication.” When asked to show any messaging activity with the other party, police say she told them the arrangements were made between the individual and her boyfriend

When the suspect called her boyfriend, he claimed he did not have the contact information between Espinoza and the other party, charging documents state. 

The suspect could provide nothing to corroborate her statements involving a third party being involved in the incidents. 

During a review of the suspect’s cell phone, officers reportedly found a calling application installed on the phone that contained three dialed numbers made prior to the suspect’s arrest, each belonging to a different pharmacy in St. George and one of which matched the information imprinted on a medication bottle recovered from the suspect’s car.

The other two numbers were the business numbers for two pharmacies that police had not yet contacted and are “now suspected to be other pharmacies that were contacted for fraud,” the officer noted in the report.

Espinoza was arrested and booked into jail in Washington County facing six third-degree felony counts of identity theft for calling in the prescriptions under the names of actual people and for using the name and DEA number belonging to a actual physician.

She also faces three misdemeanor counts of falsely obtaining or dispensing a prescription, as the evidence revealed that Espinoza was “involved in a scheme” to obtain controlled substances from multiple pharmacies by fraud, according to the officer’s statement in the report.

Once the case was reviewed by the Washington County Attorney’s Office, three of the identity theft charges were dropped, while the remaining charges were filed Thursday. Espinoza is scheduled to make an initial appearance Friday and remains in custody on $21, 750 bail.

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