Home Washington Press Releases 2009 Prince George’s County Woman Pleads Guilty to Trafficking Pain Pills

Prince George’s County Woman Pleads Guilty to Trafficking Pain Pills

U.S. Attorney’s Office June 22, 2009
  • Eastern District of Virginia (703) 299-3700

ALEXANDRIA, VA—Sheila Chappell, age 39, of Mitchellville, Md., pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, health care fraud and false statements to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This case stemmed from the ongoing Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation named Operation “Cotton Candy,” which has secured more than 170 convictions of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, patients and drug dealers relating to the distribution and use of pain pills.

Dana J. Boente, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Joseph Persichini Jr., Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge Anthony J Trenga. Chappell faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when she is sentenced on Sept. 11, 2009.

According to court documents, from in or about October 2007 to August 2008, Chappell conspired with her husband, David Lewis Chappell, and others to distribute pain pills known as “OxyContin” out of her home near Lake Shore Drive in Prince George’s County, Md. Chapell received subsidized housing benefits for that home, and she falsely stated to local officials representing HUD that she was not living with her husband and a co-conspirator, both of whom had criminal histories and which would have precluded her from receiving federal subsidies. During the conspiracy, Chappell and others in the conspiracy obtained OxyContin pills through false prescriptions using the identity of real insured persons or through bribing a Silver Spring, Md., pharmacist, Vidhyanand “Vick” Mahase, who received $150 or more for each prescription.

Operation “Cotton Candy” is focused on the illegal distribution by numerous doctors, pharmacists, nurses and patients of pain medication, including the very potent, expensive and widely abused oxycodone. This OCDETF matter is supported by the FBI; Drug Enforcement Administration; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Department of Defense; Virginia State Police; Internal Revenue Service; and Buchanan, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Tazewell, and Warren counties and Manassas City police departments, as well as numerous other state and local law enforcement in Virginia and elsewhere.

Today’s specific case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Gene Rossi and Rosanne Cannon Haney on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pacer.login.uscourts.gov .