Two Valencia County residents and former dental office employees are facing federal charges for allegedly trafficking prescription painkillers.
Pamela Suniga, 52, of Veguita, and Barbara Hussey, 40, of Belen, made their initial appearances Tuesday in federal court in Albuquerque on an indictment charging them with violating the federal narcotics laws.
Suniga and Hussey remain in custody pending arraignment and detention hearings, which were scheduled for July 13.
Both women were arrested Monday based on an 11-count indictment charging the them with conspiracy to distribute Hydrocodone, a prescription opioid painkiller, between May 2015 and October 2015.
The indictment also charges Suniga with distributing Hydrocodone on five occasions between May 2012 and December 2014, and Suniga and Hussey with unlawfully acquiring Hydrocodone by forging prescriptions in the name of a Rio Communities dentist and presenting the prescriptions at a pharmacy in Belen in August 2015.
According to the indictment, Suniga and Hussey forged prescriptions in the name of Joe Wilson, D.D.S., and presenting the prescription to the pharmacy at Walmart in Belen.
The indictment charges Suniga alone with making a materially false statement in October 2015, by forging the name of the dentist on a prescription for Hydrocodone and presenting the forged prescription at the Walmart pharmacy in Belen, and with aggravated identity theft.
Finally, Suniga is charged with embezzling $17,2195 in healthcare benefits between December 2014 and October 2015. The indictment also includes forfeiture provisions, which seek forfeiture of the monies Suniga allegedly embezzled.
If convicted of acquiring Hydrocodone using forged prescriptions, Suniga and Hussey each face a statutory maximum penalty of four years in prison. In addition, Suniga faces a statutory penalty of five years in prison on the false statements charge and 10 years on the embezzlement charge.
Suniga also faces a statutory mandatory two-year prison sentence on the aggregated identify theft charge that must be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on the other charges.