Misty Michelle Tullos of Greenwood, addicted to pain medications, stole from her employer was given a five-year probation sentence Thursday morning.
Misty Michelle Tullos wrote 163 fraudulent prescriptions for pills containing hydrocodone for herself while she worked as the office manager for Midland dentist Dr. Frank Kasman, according to court records.
Tullos was employed by Kasman's office for eight years, and between Sept. 1, 2008, and March 20, 2010, she began calling pharmacies around Midland and Odessa and placing orders for Kasman for the medications. She used her son's, husband's or other family member's name as the recipient of the drugs, court documents showed. She also ordered multiple 100-count bottles from health care distributor Henry Schein Inc.
Tullos was arrested on Oct. 29 following her federal indictment two days previously and signed a guilty plea deal with the court on Dec. 15.
Judge Robert Junell on Thursday ordered her to pay $9,157.24 in restitution; $4,125 of that is to be paid to Kasman and the remainder to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. She also was fined $3,000 by the court and will pay a $100 fee to the crime victim's fund.
When Junell asked Misty Michelle Tullos if she had anything to say to Kasman, who was sitting in the courtroom, she turned to him and apologized.
"I'm sorry for betraying your trust and confidence, Dr. Kasman," she said.
Her attorney, Rodion Cantacuzene Jr., told the court that Kasman took his client in and helped advance her career and that Misty Michelle Tullos understands how angry he must be at her, and that it was difficult for her to address him now.
"She's sorry. And for her, I would like to relay that to you," he told Kasman.
Cantacuzene then told Junell that Tullos is devastated by what she's done to her family and she believes she's let her husband and children down. He said she hopes she will be able to tell her children not to do drugs because of what's happened to her.
"It's crashed her as a human being," he said. "The one person she can't forgive is herself but she's starting to work on it."
Her attorney said that after she had had surgery and lost a friend, it was hard for her to get up and go to work. She began to take the opiates and thought, "I'll take a few more. I have to take care of my family," he told the court, adding that that was how she developed the addiction.
He asked Junell to sentence her to the maximum probation term of five years in lieu of prison; Misty Michelle Tullos could have received six months in federal prison.
"She is reminded every day of what she had risked, and I don't think she'll risk it again," Cantacuzene said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Klassen told Junell that he and law enforcement have worked these types of cases in the past, but this one by far involved the most fraudulent prescriptions.
"We're not prosecuting her for being a drug addict but because she passed forged prescriptions," he said.
He asked Junell that if her punishment was to be probation that it be some with "teeth."
"I think there needs to be an element of punishment so she's reminded of what she's done," Klassen said.
Junell handed down the five-year probation sentence but added several restrictions to the terms. Misty Michelle Tullos is to remain on home confinement between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and must attend a drug rehabilitation program and be drug-tested on a regular basis.
She also will take part in a mental health program and perform 300 hours of community service. Tullos must notify her probation officer within 48 hours if she receives any prescription from her physician and also inform any employer of the federal conviction.
Misty Michelle Tullos submitted to a urinalysis test before her 9 a.m. court appointment Thursday, Cantacuzene reminded the court. Then Junell said drug tests will continue periodically during her probation term.
"Ms. Tullos, you are not the victim in this case. You are the perpetrator. You are a mature woman and you made a really bad choice," Junell said. "If you do not follow the rules of probation, I will revoke it and send you to prison."