Three More Prescription Drug Co-conspirators Plead Not Guilty
Three more defendants pleaded not guilty in state court Wednesday to charges related to a federal multistate prescription drug conspiracy allegedly orchestrated by a Casper doctor and his wife.
Martha Zitterkopf, Dustin Big Medicine and Wilemina Longtine entered their pleas during their arraignments before Natrona County District Judge Daniel Forgey.
There are four counts in the criminal information document: conspiracy to deliver a Schedule II controlled substance, mostly oxycodone; conspiracy to deliver a Schedule IV controlled substance, mostly alprazolam, the generic name for Xanax; and two counts of conspiracy to deliver heroin.
The three defendants are charged with one or some of the counts:
- Martha Zitterkopf: conspiracy to deliver Schedule II and Schedule IV drugs.
- Wilemina Longtine -- conspiracy to deliver Schedule II and Schedule IV drugs, and conspiracy to deliver heroin.
- Dustin Big Medicine -- conspiracy to deliver Schedule II and Schedule IV drugs.
Their pleas came 10 days after five other defendants --Deni Antelope, Melissa Bishop, Charlie Edwards, Tammy Jonas and Amy Tomlinson -- pleaded not guilty to similar charges.
The eight defendants are scheduled to go to trial on Sept. 11.
Two other defendants bound over for trial -- Kathy Marie Hill and Roxanne Hagen -- have yet to appear for their arraignments.
Local, state and federal agencies discovered the defendants during the investigation of Dr. Shakeel Kahn and his wife, Lyn, who are charged in federal court with multiple counts, according to the criminal information document filed in Natrona County Circuit Court.
The case formally began in May 2016 when the Wyoming Board of Pharmacy asked the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration began investigating Kahn after reports he was prescribing abnormally excessive amounts of controlled substances, mostly opiates, in Natrona County, according to an affidavit by a Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation agent.
The Kahns were arrested at their home in Casper on Nov. 30.
As the DEA's investigation progressed, the DCI learned from a patient of Kahn that people would pay $500 in cash a month for whatever they wanted, as long as they signed a contract stating they were not wearing a wire, working with law enforcement, and promising to never call the doctor a drug dealer.
The patient added Kahn would fax the prescriptions for patients to Vape World, 211 E. 12th St., which was operated by his stepchildren.
In September, the DCI obtained and began executing search warrants on suspects' properties, wire and electronic communications devices. Authorities also executed search warrants on the properties of suspects through November.
During the investigation, Zitterkopf told law enforcement agents about paying $500 a month for prescriptions of oxycodone, plus signing a contract stating she would not call the Kahns drug dealers.
But Zitterkopf did just that during her interview when she told agents, "'the new doctor is the biggest drug dealer as far as she is concerned,'" according to the affidavit.