Erica Przystas-Baker duped a Palm Springs pharmacy with more than a dozen fraudulent prescriptions for more than 1,500 oxycodone pills, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
A former registered home nurse from West Boca, the 44-year-old woman used the names of her former patients and the signatures of three Palm Beach County doctors to get the drugs, according to an arrest report.
Przystas-Baker now stands charged with 18 counts of drug trafficking and 19 counts of prescription drug fraud.
On Sept. 28, deputies talked to a pharmacist at Medicap Pharmacy, at 3491 S. Congress Ave. in Palm Springs. There, pharmacist Damien Simmons and his staff had discovered at least eight prescriptions that appeared to be fraudulent, the report states.
The prescriptions, with the names of five people, called for 720 10 mg oxycodone pills. All the prescriptions appeared to be authorized by Dr. Matthew Deutscher, of Coral Springs.
Simmons told detectives that Przystas-Baker, known as a “home care nurse,” had turned in and filled the prescriptions between February and June. She claimed she was picking up the prescriptions for her patients and paid their insurance co-payments, the report says.
Detectives then visited Deutscher. He looked at the eight prescriptions and didn’t recognize any of the patients. He also noticed seven of the prescriptions appeared to be computer-generated and sized differently than the slips he typically gives to patients.
Detectives next showed the doctor Przystas-Baker’s driver’s license photo. Deutscher told detectives he immediately recognized her face. She had visited his office many times, but Deutscher said he last saw her in January.
“Przystas-Baker had been a patient of his for some time, but just stopped coming to his office for treatment,” according to the report.
On Oct. 3, detectives returned to Medicap Pharmacy, where Simmons handed over 10 more prescriptions Przystas-Baker had turned in between April and September.
The 10 prescriptions, assigned to four different patients, called for 880 oxycodone pills. All the slips appeared to have come from the office of Dr. Graham Whitfield, of West Palm Beach.
In an interview with the doctor later that day, Whitfield told detectives he, too, didn’t recognize any of the patient’s names.
But he also recognized Przystas-Baker. She was a registered nurse with Palm Beach Home Health Inc. — a company that shares office space with Whitfield.
Detectives next met with the owner of Palm Beach Home Health, True Rodriguez, where “Erica Przystas-Baker was employed as their Director of Nursing,” the report states.
It is unclear why Przystas-Baker left the company. Rodriguez declined to comment Thursday when reached by phone.
Sorting through the growing number of prescriptions, detectives later discovered a third doctor, Lon Barrow, of West Palm Beach.
He, too, had no knowledge of any prescriptions for Przystas-Baker.
Deputies arrested Przystas-Baker on Wednesday and booked her into the Palm Beach County Jail. She remained there late Thursday without bail.