Seventh Of 10 Drug Conspiracy Defendants Pleads Guilty in Casper
The seventh of 10 defendants pleaded guilty Wednesday for her role in a state district court case related to the federal multistate prescription drug conspiracy allegedly orchestrated by a Casper doctor and his wife.
During her hearing in Natrona County District Court, Melissa Bishop pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, a Schedule II drug, and one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin.
Assistant District Attorney Trevor Schenk told Judge Daniel Forgey the state would dismiss one count of conspiracy to deliver a Schedule IV controlled substance -- (the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam, the generic name for Xanax); and another count of conspiracy to deliver heroin.
In exchange for the plea, Schenk and Bishop's defense attorney Jon Foreman agreed she would serve two concurrent terms of between three to six years of imprisonment.
If Bishop's case had gone to trial and she was found guilty on all counts, she could have faced up to 20 years for each of the two heroin conspiracy counts and the Schedule II conspiracy count, and up to two years for the Schedule IV conspiracy count.
Bishop told Forgey she obtained prescriptions for oxycodone from Dr. Shakeel Kahn, sold some of those drugs for money or exchanged them for other drugs. She also said she was a heroin user, would buy heroin and sell some of it.
Forgey ordered a presentence investigation for Bishop and will set her sentencing date.
These six other defendants have entered guilty pleas to some of the charges: Dustin Big Medicine; Kathy Marie Hill; Tammy Jonas; Wilemina Longtine; Amy Tomlinson; and Martha Lee Zitterkopf.
These three defendants in the state district court case have change-of-plea hearings set in the next few weeks: Tammy Jonas; Deni Antelope; and Charles Edwards.
Five other defendants have been named in the prescription drug conspiracy, and some of them also have been linked to heroin distribution. They have not yet been bound over for trial.
Local, state and federal agencies discovered Bishop and the other defendants during the investigation of Kahn and his wife, Lyn, who are charged in federal court with multiple counts, according to documents filed in Natrona County District Court.
The affidavit filed by an agent with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation says the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration began investigating Kahn after reports he was prescribing abnormally excessive amounts of controlled substances, mostly opiates, in Natrona County. However, the DEA found people would travel from Fremont County and as far away as Massachusetts to obtain prescriptions.
As the DEA's investigation progressed, the DCI learned from a patient of Kahn that people would pay $500 in cash a month to him for whatever prescription they wanted, as long as they signed a contract stating they were not wearing a wire, working with law enforcement, and promising to never call the doctor a drug dealer.
Kahn sometimes would fax the prescriptions to a Vape World, 211 E. 12th St., which was operated by his stepchildren. The store is now closed.
The Kahns themselves were arrested at their home in Casper on Nov. 30.
They and other defendants Paul Beland, and Shakeel Kahn's brother, Nabeel, remain in custody awaiting trial in federal court.
They face charges including drug conspiracy distribution, use of communications in drug distribution, firearms charges, and operating a continuing criminal enterprise.