Richland doctor faces up to 25 years for opioid distribution & conspiracy

RICHLAND, Wash. — One local doctor faces up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges in a conspiracy to distribute opioid pain medications and other controlled substances by pre-signing prescriptions forms.

According to an alert from the Eastern Washington branch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Dr. Janet Sue Arnold, 63 of Benton City, signed hundreds of the blank forms, which were distributed by four other people. Each of those individuals has already pleaded guilty to charges of “conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute opioid pain medications and other controlled substances.”

This occurred from March 2016 to May 2017 out of Arnold’s clinic: Desert Wind Family Practice at 431 Wellsian Way in Richland. All four of co-conspirators proved to be drug addicts themselves, the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirms. One of the co-conspirators, a 44-year-old Richland woman named Danielle Corine Mata, was also Arnold’s office manager.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Richland doctor’s medical license suspended over drug investigation

Acting United States Attorney Joseph H. Harrington is using this instance as an example for other misguided doctors who committed similar crimes:

“Dr. Arnold abandoned her role as a medical doctor by essentially turning over her prescription pad to her office manager and others. Today’s guilty plea should serve as a warning to all medical professionals that if you abuse your medical license by prescribing opioids and other drugs without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice, you will be held accountable. I commend the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, agents who investigated this case.”

Two of the four co-conspirators were Prosser residents and the last is a 43-year-old man from Kennewick. Each of these individuals will be sentenced between October 2021 and December 2021, when Arnold faces sentencing herself.


RELATED: Opioid addiction treatment center opens in the Tri-Cities