Doctor Gets 2 Years in Prescription Scheme

A physician from Northridge was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to two years in prison after his conviction for writing prescriptions so that two workers at his medical clinic could obtain drugs to be sold illegally.

Dr. William Dupuis, 34, operated a now-closed weight-loss clinic in South Central Los Angeles where women were paid to pose as patients so that they could be given prescriptions for stimulants and painkillers, Asst. U.S. Atty. Joyce Karlin said.

The women then had the prescriptions filled at nearby pharmacies and turned the drugs over to the clinic for sale on the street, Karlin said.

Two workers employed by Dupuis, Joann Nalls, 49, and Travis Rankins, 58, both of La Puente, also were sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge William M. Byrne. Nalls received a two-year sentence and Rankins 3 1/2 years. Both admitted hiring the phony patients and then selling the drugs, Karlin said.

The three were arrested in May after a federal and state investigation dubbed "Operation Rx," which was aimed at cutting down on the illegal sale of pharmaceutical drugs, Karlin said. The two-year investigation led to the arrest of 17 physicians, nurses and clinic workers in Southern California, Karlin said.

Dupuis pleaded guilty on July 1 to three counts of illegally prescribing the drugs Preludin and Diordin. Nalls and Rankins pleaded guilty in July to several charges involving the illegal drug sales, Karlin said.

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