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November 7, 2013

Nurse practitioner facing felony drug charges

TERRE HAUTE — A Vigo County nurse practitioner faces 14 criminal counts after an undercover drug investigation into allegations that she was illegally prescribing controlled substances and submitting fake Medicaid claims.

Sherri Jernberg, 41, of Terre Haute, was arrested Wednesday and appeared in Vigo Superior Court 5 on Thursday. She posted $50,000 bond with 10 percent allowed and was released from the Vigo County Jail.

The criminal charges filed are two class-B felony counts of dealing in a controlled substance, five class-C felony counts of dealing in a controlled substance, five class-C felony counts of practicing medicine without a license, and two class-D felony counts of Medicaid fraud.

A probable cause affidavit states that investigator David Richardson with the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Indiana Attorney General’s Office began an investigation into Jernberg’s prescribing practices at Seelyville Family Practice in the 8800 block of U.S. 40 at the west edge of Seelyville earlier this year. Richardson reports that he received information from the Vigo County Drug Task Force that Jernberg was prescribing controlled substances for no medical reason.

Jernberg is licensed in Indiana as a nurse practitioner with a controlled substance registration. But through her collaborative agreement with a supervising physician, she is limited in what she can prescribe.

Richardson reported that when he went for medical visits with Jernberg in August and September, he received prescriptions for controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose or exam. He stated that he also contacted some area pharmacies that have expressed concerns about prescriptions Jernberg wrote. And a review of the state prescription drug registry found that for several patients, Jernberg had been prescribing a combination of drugs that gives users the effects and euphoria of heroin use.

No additional hearing dates were set in court Thursday.

 

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