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Physician pleads no contest to insurance fraud

October 22, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- A Martinsburg physician charged with felony counts of prescription fraud and conspiracy to commit the crime was allowed Thursday morning to plead no contest to a lesser charge of obtaining a prescription by insurance fraud.

Tressie M. Duffy, 39, of 808 Jerry Court, was fined $500 and ordered to pay court costs in a hearing before Berkeley County Magistrate Sandra L. Miller.

"This is more technically correct for what she did," Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Jean Games-Neely said of the misdemeanor charge made part of a plea agreement reached between her office and defense attorney B. Craig Manford.

In exchange for the plea, the original felony counts were dismissed, according to court records.

The deal was in line with the resolution reached in the case of co-defendant Robert William Phares earlier this month, Games-Neely said.

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"She still has to deal with the insurance board," Games-Neely said.

Phares, also a Martinsburg physician, was allowed by Games-Neely to enter a guilty plea earlier this month to a misdemeanor charge of false pretense after being charged with felony conspiracy to obtain a controlled substance.

William Wilmot, Phares' attorney, worked out a deal that dismissed the felony charge, keeping Phares out of jail and off probation, but he was ordered pay a $500 fine.

The physicians were charged by Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Lt. Gary Harmison, who was contacted May 29 by Lt. John Sherman Jr. of the Martinsburg Police Department. Sherman told the deputy that a prescription was called in to Moore's Pharmacy in the name of his wife, Angela Sherman.

The prescriptions, called in by Phares, were for methotrexate and Cytotec, according to court records.

Angela Sherman told police that she did not order the drugs from Phares.

Harmison said the pharmacist told him that Duffy picked up the methotrexate. The Cytotec prescription was not filled.

Phares told Harmison that he called in the prescription for Angela Sherman. He said he didn't know why Duffy picked it up, according to court records.

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