Hospice care worker arrested for fraud

Published 7:00 am Friday, October 26, 2018

Picayune Police Department Detectives arrested a hospice care employee late last week for her alleged involvement in the illegal procurement of prescription medication.

According to a departmental release, Mindy Welford, 39, of 134 Lavelle Odom Rd., Poplarville, was arrested on Oct. 19 just before 9 a.m. after detectives gathered enough evidence in their investigation.

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The investigation began with a report from employees of the hospice care provider, which was unnamed in the release, stating that Welford had been including additional prescriptions amongst those she would present to a doctor for his signature during bi-weekly staff meetings, the release states.

After getting the prescriptions signed, she would fill them at area pharmacies.

A search of the company vehicle used by Welford located three hydrocodone pills under the driver’s seat, along with a black bag that contained 26 prescription bottles in various patients’ names, all for hydrocodone. The release states that a notebook outlining when certain prescriptions could be filled in a patient’s name was found. The notebook also contained about 13 prescriptions that had yet to be filled.

A bottle containing 72 hydrocodone pills with a patient’s name was also located in Welford’s purse and under another seat of the vehicle detectives found four empty prescription bottles for hydrocodone and oxycodone in various patient’s names, the release states.

Detectives also found in her possession a drinking  straw commonly used in the consumption of narcotics, two ceramic pipes, another bottle with 14 hydrocodone pills, two suboxone packs and a number of empty suboxone packs. In all, 126 hydrocodone pills were recovered from Welford’s possession, the release states.

A plastic bag containing a substance suspected to be methamphetamine was also found in her possession, the release states.

In conjunction with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department, a search warrant was served at Welford’s Poplarville home, where investigators with both departments found eight more prescription bottles with various patients’ names.

Based on the evidence found in the investigation, Welford was arrested for fraud in acquisition of a controlled substance, trafficking of a controlled substance, felony possession of a controlled substance and possession of paraphernalia, the release states.

Picayune Police Chief Bryan Dawsey said in the release that he appreciates the assistance provided by the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department in conducting the search at her home.