By Maxine Bernstein

The Oregonian

A nurse practitioner who helped run an illegal “pill mill” in Portland was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday, becoming Oregon’s first medical professional to face federal sentencing for unlawfully prescribing opioids, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Julie Ann DeMille subsidized her job working for a Clackamas County public health clinic by running the Fusion Wellness Clinic, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Donna Maddux.

An expert’s review of patient files found DeMille regularly wrote prescriptions for opioids without a documented medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice, at times ignoring or disregarding medical histories that indicated a patient’s propensity for addiction, the prosecutor wrote in a sentencing memo.

In December, DeMille pleaded guilty to two counts of illegal opioid distribution and one count each of filing a false tax return and lying to a federal agent from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Under a plea deal, DeMille, now 60, was expected to receive the four-year sentence, followed by three years of supervised release. She also was expected to be ordered to pay $43,126 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

DeMille lost her nurse practitioner’s license, and in 2016, voluntarily surrendered her Drug Enforcement Administration registration as a narcotics provider. She had lied to an undercover DEA agent posing as a DEA clerk that she only practiced at the Clackamas County public clinic.

Based on a review of Fusion Wellness patient records seized in July 2016, every one of the approximately 580 patients received a prescription for opioids written by DeMille at nearly every visit, according to the government.

Oregon has one of the highest rates of prescription opioid misuse in the country, with an average of three deaths in Oregon every week from prescription opioid overdose, Maddux wrote in her sentencing memo, quoting figures from the state.