Former Alaska Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Jessica Joyce Spayd, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for illegally prescribing millions of opioids, resulting in the deaths of five individuals between 2014 and 2019. The sentencing was handed down by United States District Judge Joshua M. Kindred, who emphasized the trust society places in medical practitioners and remarked on Spayd’s knowledge that she was causing harm but continued to engage in these practices for nearly two decades. The case highlights the devastating impact of opioid abuse and sends a clear message that such conduct will be severely punished.
Former Alaska Advanced Nurse Practitioner Sentenced to 30 Years for Illegal Prescribing of Opioids Causing Deaths
Former Advanced Nurse Practitioner Jessica Joyce Spayd was recently sentenced to 30 years in prison for her illegal prescribing and dispensing of opioids, which resulted in the deaths of five individuals between 2014 and 2019. The sentencing took place in U.S. District Court and was handed down by Judge Joshua M. Kindred. Spayd was found guilty of 10 crimes, including five counts of illegal drug distribution resulting in death and one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises. As part of her sentence, she was also required to forfeit $117,000 in unlawful proceeds. The trial lasted four weeks and included the testimony of 51 witnesses.
Details of the Case
Spayd’s illegal activities revolved around the prescribing and dispensing of opioids outside the scope of legitimate medical practice. Evidence presented during the trial revealed that she prescribed and dispensed a staggering 4.5 million doses of opioids in just over five years. These opioids included fentanyl, methadone, oxycodone, and hydromorphone. Spayd often combined these prescriptions with dangerous drugs like valium and muscle relaxers, known as the “holy trinity,” which significantly increased the risk of overdose death. Furthermore, her prescriptions lacked medical justification and treatment plans, and she conducted minimal, if any, tests or physical examinations. She also failed to consider non-opioid treatment options. Many of Spayd’s patients were vulnerable individuals suffering from chronic pain, addiction, and mental illness. Despite their pleas and warnings from family members, pharmacists, and other medical providers, she disregarded their medical histories, risk factors, and past overdoses.
Negligence and Disregard for Patient Safety
Spayd’s actions demonstrated a clear negligence and disregard for patient safety. She ignored patients’ medical histories and risk factors, neglecting to take into account vital information that could have influenced her prescribing decisions. Even when warned by family members, pharmacists, and fellow medical professionals, she chose to dismiss their concerns and continued her dangerous practices. Additionally, Spayd received thousands of warning letters from insurance companies highlighting the dangers of her prescribing practices, but she chose to defy them. Her actions showed a blatant disregard for the well-being and safety of her patients.
During the sentencing, Judge Kindred emphasized the importance of trust in medical practitioners and the harm caused when they fail in their responsibilities. He compared Spayd’s actions to that of a serial killer, stating that she knew she was effectively killing people, yet she continued to do so for nearly two decades. Furthermore, the judge noted that the five deaths Spayd was convicted of were just the tip of the iceberg, suggesting that she may have caused or contributed to the deaths of dozens of individuals. The severity of her actions and the potential number of victims further highlighted the seriousness of the case.
Prosecution and Law Enforcement Response
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan Tansey and Michael Heyman led the prosecution in the case against Spayd. They worked closely with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate and build the case against her. In addition, the Alaska Health Care Fraud Task Force played a crucial role in providing support and collaboration throughout the investigation. The partnership between law enforcement agencies ensured a comprehensive and thorough response to the unlawful activities of Spayd.
Public Safety Impact
Spayd’s sentencing serves as an important warning to other medical practitioners who may engage in similar illegal prescribing practices. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with its law enforcement partners, will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute these cases to ensure public safety. Efforts will be made to uncover and address similar cases across the state of Alaska to protect vulnerable individuals from the devastating consequences of opioid addiction and overdose. Collaboration between law enforcement agencies will remain a priority in combating the opioid epidemic and holding accountable those who contribute to its proliferation.
Quotes from Officials
U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker stated, “Medical practitioners who abuse their positions of trust by supplying millions of opioids for no legitimate medical purpose wreak havoc on our community. Let this sentence send a clear message to any other medical practitioners considering similar conduct in Alaska: our office and law enforcement partners will work tirelessly to investigate and prosecute these cases, and you will be punished severely.”
Jacob D. Galvan, Acting Special Agent in Charge of DEA Seattle Field Division, emphasized the seriousness of Spayd’s actions and the impact of her lengthy sentence, stating, “Ms. Spayd betrayed the trust of her profession, those under her care, and her community by prescribing a staggering amount of opioids along with other powerful narcotics. This lengthy sentence emphasizes the seriousness of Ms. Spayd’s actions and should be seen as a deterrent to those who aim to bring harm to our communities.”
Special Agent in Charge Antony Jung of the FBI Anchorage Field Office noted, “Spayd callously abused her dispensing authority, while fueling the opioid epidemic and poisoning our communities in the process. This investigation and subsequent prosecution was about seeking justice for the victims and their families, and holding Spayd accountable for her destructive and lethal crimes. With Spayd’s abuse linked to a significant loss of life, this sentence will undoubtedly have a direct public safety impact on our community.”
The sentencing of former Advanced Nurse Practitioner Jessica Joyce Spayd to 30 years in prison for illegally prescribing opioids resulting in multiple deaths highlights the importance of maintaining trust and patient safety in the medical profession. Spayd’s actions demonstrated a complete disregard for the well-being of her patients and the potential consequences of her prescribing practices. The collaboration between law enforcement agencies, the prosecution team’s efforts, and the severe sentencing emphasize the commitment to thoroughly investigate and prosecute similar cases to protect public safety. The case serves as a powerful warning to other medical practitioners who may be considering engaging in similar illegal practices, ensuring that they face severe consequences for their actions.
For more information about the Alaska Health Care Fraud Task Force, visit their [website](https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/fieldoffices/ anchorage/alaska-health-care-fraud-task-force).
For contact details for USAO – Alaska, please visit their website.