A federal jury in Houston convicted a Texas pharmacist yesterday for her role in a pill-mill pharmacy that unlawfully dispensed over 100,000 opioid pills in exchange for cash.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, from January 2014 to January 2018, Deanna Winfield-Gates, 54, of Houston, was a relief pharmacist at Health Fit Pharmacy (Health Fit), a cash-only, pill-mill pharmacy. Health Fit dispensed controlled substances to drug traffickers in exchange for hundreds of dollars, often based on prescriptions that were fraudulent and issued in the names of physicians whose identities were stolen. Winfield-Gates filled large volumes of cookie-cutter prescriptions for the opioids hydrocodone 10-325mg and oxycodone 30mg and for carisoprodol, alprazolam, and promethazine with codeine, often in combination, knowing these controlled substances were likely to be diverted or abused.  

The jury convicted Winfield-Gates of one count of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 11, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Winfield-Gates was the last-remaining defendant charged in this case. Three co-defendants previously pleaded guilty to the conspiracy. 

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