Union County officials announced on Monday that Christine Powell, 60, of Newark, has been sentenced after admitting to trying to use falsified prescriptions to obtain large quantities of high-dose oxycodone pills at a Linden pharmacy late last year.
According to officials, Powell was ordered to serve two years of probation, to be followed by six months in the Union County Jail, according to the terms set by Union County Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch.
The matter is the result of an investigation by the Linden Police Department, which determined that, in late 2019, Powell attempted to obtain a total of ninety 30-mg oxycodone pills at a CVS in Linden on two separate occasions, using fraudulent prescriptions.
As a result of this investigation, Powell was charged with third-degree forgery and third-degree attempting to obtain a controlled dangerous substance by fraud. She pleaded guilty to the former charge, on Tuesday, July 21.
The sentence comes amidst an opioid epidemic that appears to have only been exacerbated by COVID-19. In Union County, a total of 75 suspected drug overdose deaths occurred during the first half of 2020, putting the county on pace to eclipse its single-year record total of 131 in 2018.
Through the Prosecutor’s Office "Operation Helping Hand" program, Union County became the first county in the state to directly connect all suspects arrested for low-level possessory drug offenses involving heroin or opioids with comprehensive rehabilitative services.
Moreover, since 2015, patrol officers in law enforcement agencies across Union County have been equipped with the lifesaving drug naloxone, deploying it more than 1,000 times to citizens in the throes of a drug overdose, including more than 140 times so far in 2020. Approximately 95 percent of recipients of the police-administered naloxone survive.
Anyone suffering from opioid addiction is urged to contact Prevention Links, at 732-381-4100, or the Union County Operation Helping Hand 24/7/365 hotline, at 1-855-825-3275, to be put in touch with a peer recovery specialist.