Lander Nurse Charged With Drug Distribution Resulting In Death
A family practice nurse in Lander has been charged with multiple counts of illegal distribution of controlled substances in 2014, including two counts that certain drugs caused death, according to federal court records.
Margaret Ann Easley pleaded not guilty to the charges during her initial appearance and arraignment in federal court in Lander before U.S. Magistrate Judge Teresa McKee last week.
Easley, an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond with conditions. Her trial date has been set for Sept. 24.
Three counts claim Easley unlawfully distributed oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone. If convicted, each count carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, according to the indictment handed up by the grand jury on July 19 and unsealed last week.
Two counts claim she distributed fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and alprazolam that resulted in the deaths of two individuals. If convicted, each count carries a penalty of 20 years to life in prison.
This isn't the first time Easley attracted attention from authorities.
In November 2014, the Wyoming State Board of Nursing initiated an administrative complaint against Easley based on a Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation review of possible improper prescribing practices and high volumes and frequencies of prescriptions of controlled substances. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration worked with the DCI on the investigation.
The DCI's report found, among other allegations, that a patient of Easley's died from oxycodone intoxication. That patient's initials corresponds to the initials of a name in the indictment under the count of distributing controlled substances resulting in death.
In early 2015, Easley agreed to refrain from prescribing controlled substances, provide medical records, and take educational courses.
As a result of the investigation and Easley's cooperation, the Board of Nursing issued a letter of reprimand with the conditions she be monitored for two years, receive further education, and observe other restrictions.
Jennifer Burns, assistant to the director of the Wyoming State Board of Nursing, said the board is aware of the indictment but declined further comment.
In a prepared statement, Wyoming U.S. Attorney Mark Klaassen said prosecuting such cases is part of the national effort to combat prescription drug abuse, especially with synthetic drugs such as fentanyl.
An Indictment is only an accusation and the accused is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the DEA, the DCI, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office and the Lander Wyoming Police Department.
Margaret Easley is the owner of the Lander Valley Family Practice PC.
The office manager declined to comment on the indictment or Klaassen's press release.
However, the office issued this statement on its Facebook page. We are printing it verbatim:
On July 25, the court unsealed an indictment accusing Family Nurse Practitioner Margaret Easley of unlawful distribution of prescription drugs. We are disappointed by the accusations and the subsequent one sided media release from the US Attorney’s office. Because the Rules of Court prohibit parties from extrajudicial statements, we will limit our statements to assuring our patients and the public that we will continue to provide quality care to our patients, we will continue to adhere to the highest standards of care and we will vigorously defend against the accusations. We call upon the US Attorney’s office to refrain from further extrajudicial statements which violate the rules of court and seek to prejudice the community against Ms. Easley based on mere allegations.
We also want to thank everyone for their love and support during this time.