Five Of 10 Drug Conspiracy Defendants Plead Not Guilty; Some Were Supplied By Casper Doctor
The federal multistate prescription drug conspiracy allegedly orchestrated by a Casper doctor and his wife has expanded to state court with 10 other defendants charged with delivering prescription drugs and heroin in central Wyoming.
Friday, five of those defendants pleaded not guilty to various charges during their arraignments in Natrona County District Court.
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.
There are four counts: conspiracy to deliver a Schedule II controlled substance (oxycodone and oxycontin); conspiracy to deliver a Schedule IV controlled substance -- (the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam, the generic name for Xanax); and two counts of conspiracy to deliver heroin.
Defendants are charged with one, some, or all counts:
Friday, Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey heard the not guilty pleas from five defendants:
- Deni Antelope -- conspiracy to deliver Schedule II and Schedule IV drugs.
- Melissa Bishop -- all four counts.
- Charlie Edwards -- all four counts.
- Tammy Jonas -- conspiracy to deliver Schedule II and Schedule IV drugs.
- Amy Tomlinson -- conspiracy to deliver Schedule II and Schedule IV drugs.
The defense attorneys for Bishop and Edwards asked Forgey to lower their bonds, originally set in circuit court at $50,000, from $25,000 to $5,000.
But Assistant District Attorney Mike Schafer objected to both requests.
Edwards, Schafer said, has a lengthy criminal history going back decades in California, Utah and Wyoming with felonies including running a prostitution ring, alien smuggling, burglary and narcotics.
Bishop likewise has a lengthy criminal history including involvement in an escort agency and cocaine possession, Schafer added.
Forgey agreed, and kept their bonds at $50,000.
Trial dates for these defendants will be set later, Forgey said.
The 20-page affidavit filed by an agent with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation says the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration began investigating Kahn in May 2016 after reports he was prescribing abnormally excessive amounts of controlled substances, mostly opiates, in Natrona County. The DEA found people would travel from Fremont County and as far away as Massachusetts to obtain prescriptions for $500 in cash.
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.
Meanwhile, the DCI learned that Bishop, another Kahn patient, was selling prescription opiates and heroin in the Casper area. Bishop's boyfriend was Edwards.
In September, the DCI obtained a warrant to monitor wire and electronic communications on Bishop's phone. Law enforcement conducted other surveillance by video, GPS, and physical observation. Authorities also executed search warrants on the properties of suspects through November.
"'the new doctor is the biggest drug dealer as far as she is concerned.'"
Among the many monitored conversations, Bishop was in frequent contact with Louis Arrazola, an alleged heroin dealer in the Denver area.
The DCI also monitored conversations between Lyn Kahn and Deni Antelope, who with her husband, Dustin Big Medicine, obtained prescriptions for opiates they would sell on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
One defendant who has yet to be arraigned, Martha Lee 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.
The other defendants bound over for trial and awaiting their arraignments are:
- Dustin Big Medicine -- conspiracy to deliver Schedule II and Schedule IV drugs.
- Roxanne Hagen -- conspiracy to deliver Schedule IV drugs.
- Kathy Marie Hill -- 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.
- Zitterkopf -- conspiracy to deliver Schedule II and Schedule IV drugs.
Five other defendants named in the criminal information document have yet to be bound over for trial. They are:
- Louis Arrazola -- conspiracy to distribute heroin.
- Findesio "Fil" Flores -- conspiracy to deliver Schedule II and Schedule IV drugs, and conspiracy to deliver heroin.
- Faith Washakie -- conspiracy to deliver Schedule II and Schedule IV drugs.
- Joe Washakie -- conspiracy to deliver Schedule II and Schedule IV drugs.
- Jerry Welch -- conspiracy to deliver heroin.