Doctor, wife sentenced for writing phony opioid prescriptions to Wythe County patients

This illustration image shows tablets of opioid painkiller Oxycodon delivered on medical prescription. - Millions of Americans sank into addiction after using potent opioid painkillers that the companies churned out and doctors freely prescribed over the past two decades. Well over 400,000 people died of opioid overdoses in that period, while the companies involved raked in billions of dollars in profits. And while the flood of prescription opioids into the black market has now been curtailed, addicts are turning to heroin and highly potent fentanyl to compensate, where the risk of overdose and death is even higher. (Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images)

ABINGDON, Va. – A North Carolina doctor and his wife have been sentenced after writing prescriptions for oxycodone to patients who didn’t have a legitimate medical need for the opioid, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

David Francis Lelio, 57, and his wife, Nadja Siiri Kujanson-Lelio, 51, both pleaded guilty in federal court in August 2020 to one count of conspiracy to distribute prescription opioids. Lelio pleaded guilty to an additional count of making a false statement.

Lelio was sentenced to 36 months in prison and his wife was sentenced to three years’ probation, including six months of home detention.

The couple admitted that between 2016 and 2019, Lelio wrote more than 60 prescriptions for oxycodone to patients, some of which lived in Wythe County, without a legitimate medical purpose, according to the Dept. of Justice.

According to court documents, Lelio wrote prescriptions in his patients’ names with the understanding that some or all of the prescriptions would be shared with his wife. Lelio and his wife then reimbursed patients for the cost of filling the prescriptions.

When asked about the scheme, prosecutors said Lelio told law enforcement officers that there was no agreement with any of his patients to return or share the prescription opioids with his wife.

The Wythe County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police conducted the investigation into Lelio and his wife.

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