Riverside, California – A physician assistant was arrested today on federal charges that allege he conspired with two other persons to unlawfully distribute the powerful and addictive painkiller oxycodone, which is sold under the brand name OxyContin.
Christopher Henry Lister, 48, of Apple Valley, was arrested at the United States Probation Office in San Bernardino without incident by special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Two other persons charged in an indictment with Lister have already appeared in court. Cherish Amber Dickerson, 24, of Hesperia, and Mark Robert Wilkes, 27, of Victorville, surrendered to authorities on November 1. At an arraignment that day in United States District Court, Dickerson and Wilkes pleaded not guilty and were released on bond pending a trial currently scheduled for December 18.
According to the indictment returned by a federal grand jury on October 20, Lister is a physician assistant who operated a business in Hesperia called Lister’s Mobile Health Services. The indictment alleges that Lister obtained prescription pads with the name of a licensed physician without the doctor’s knowledge or approval. Lister then allegedly used pads to sell prescriptions for controlled substances, including oxycodone. The indictment alleges that Lister wrote prescriptions for patients without conducting any medical examination and, in some cases, knowing that the patients were using false names. Dickerson and Wilkes sold oxycodone prescriptions written by Lister and would sell oxycodone pills obtained using Lister’s prescriptions, the indictment alleges.
The indictment outlines five incidents in 2009 in which Lister allegedly wrote prescriptions for oxycodone and then Dickerson then sold those prescriptions to an undercover DEA agent. The indictment also alleges that Wilkes sold oxycodone pills that were obtained through prescriptions written by Lister to a confidential informant on three occasions.
The indictment alleges that Lister was not acting under the direction or supervision of any licensed physician and that he acted outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.
“The abuse of prescription drugs like oxycodone continues to increase at disturbing rates,” said Timothy J. Landrum, DEA Special Agent in Charge. “The DEA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure those responsible for supplying these dangerous drugs are brought to justice.”
Lister is expected to make his initial court appearance this afternoon in the United States District Court in Riverside.
Lister, Dickerson and Wilkes are charged in the indictment with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Lister is also charged with five counts of attempted distribution of controlled substances and twelve counts of causing the unlawful dispensing and distribution of controlled substances. Each charge in the indictment carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which received assistance from the California Medical Board and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Jerry Behnke
Release No. 10-165