Federal prison for former Wrightsville couple in opioid fraud
- Attorneys for Amy and Joseph Schneider say the couple struggled with their opioid addictions.
- The Schneiders' two young children will stay with a family member while their parents are in prison.
A former Wrightsville couple must serve federal prison time for fraudulently obtaining prescription oxycodone, according to federal records.
Amy Schneider, 31, was sentenced Monday to 30 months in federal prison by District Court Judge Sylvia Rambo, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Harrisburg.
She was able to obtain blank, signed prescription forms because she managed the office of a York-area physician, federal prosecutors said.
Rambo sentenced 31-year-old Joseph Schneider to 46 months in federal prison, the release states.
Each was fined $800 and must undergo three years of supervised probation after being released from prison, according to the federal attorney's office.
They now live in Lancaster County, according to attorney Brian Perry, who represented Amy Schneider.
Both were heavily addicted to opioids, their attorneys said.
"It's heartbreaking what opioids can do to really wonderful people who are caught up in something much larger than themselves," said attorney Chris Ferro, who represented Joseph Schneider. "It's a tragic combination of addiction and opportunity in which my client had access to pills and had this huge addiction, and it led him down this path."
Long addiction: Amy Schneider has struggled with her addiction for more than seven years, according to her attorney.
"She hurt her back at age 22 at work and she started taking Vicodin," Perry said, and eventually she became addicted. "She and her husband were taking an exorbitant amount of pills every day."
Both have gone through addiction treatment and are doing much better, he said.
"The good thing is, the judge took into consideration a lot of factors," Perry said, including the fact that the Schneiders have two young children.
"This was the primary concern — who is going to care for the kids?" he said.
Perry said the couple transferred custody of their two children to a family member while they are incarcerated.
The power of opioids: Amy Schneider "easily" could have received a five-year prison sentence, according to her attorney.
"She has taken full responsibility for her actions. This is another example of the power of opiates," Perry said. "These are rational people who make irrational decisions while under the influence of these drugs. I would say at least half of the cases that come into my office now are prescription pill or heroin related, and that was not the case 10 years ago."
Amy Schneider's conviction will prohibit her from ever working as a physician's office manager again, the attorney confirmed.
The federal attorney's office said the Schneiders pleaded guilty to conspiring to obtain and distribute 20,000 units of oxycodone through fraud and forgery.
Amy Schneider also pleaded guilty to using a federal drug-enforcement registration to obtain a controlled substance. Joseph Schneider also pleaded guilty to acquiring a prescription through fraud or forgery, records state.
Amy Schneider used the prescription forms from the doctor's office where she worked to write prescriptions for her husband, who took those forms to pharmacies to be filled, officials said.
Most of the 20,000 pills were taken by the Schneiders, although some were distributed to other people, according to the news release. Their scheme started in January 2014 and ended in May 2015, when they were arrested in the Pittsburgh area, officials said.
Arrested: According to charging documents filed against the Schneiders in Allegheny County in May 2015, the pair was originally detained at a grocery store in the Pittsburgh area on suspicion of stealing stool softener.
They admitted to stealing the stool softener, and Amy Schneider allowed Brentwood Police to search her purse, documents state. Police allege they found seven pill bottles in her purse that contained oxycodone, diet pills such as phentermine and a range of anti-anxiety and anti-depression pills, according to documents.
Her purse contained more than 300 pills, police said.
Their Allegheny County charges were withdrawn in November, according to online court records. That's common when a local case is resolved on a federal level.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.