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San Bernardino County physician's assistant sentenced

April 16, 2013|By Hailey Branson-Potts

A San Bernardino County physician’s assistant who pleaded guilty to illegally distributing a widely abused painkiller was sentenced Tuesday to 14 years in federal prison.

Christopher Henry Lister, 51, of Victorville ran a mobile health clinic called Lister’s Mobile Health Services, and sold prescriptions for OxyContin to "street-level" drug dealers, prosecutors alleged in court papers.

Lister pleaded guilty in November to one count of conspiracy to distribute and attempt to distribute oxycodone, the generic name for OxyContin, according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Riverside.

Lister admitted selling prescriptions to people with no legitimate medical need for the medication, knowing they would sell the drugs, according to court records. An undercover DEA agent purchased a prescription written by Lister to a co-defendant in the case to whom Lister sold prescriptions, records state.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Robert P. Brown said Lister's role as a medical professional was an "aggravating factor" in his conduct. 

"You're cloaking the activity in a veil of legitimacy," Brown said. "It makes it more difficult to detect the abuse of substances under those circumstances."

Lister's attorney, Carlos L. Juarez, called the sentence by Judge Virginia A. Phillips "excessive" and said Lister would file an appeal.

"He wrote prescriptions, and he did them improperly," Juarez said. "Mr. Lister did not sell the substance. He was not the dealer."

Lister was not taken into custody following his sentencing and was given 60 days to get his personal affairs in order, Juarez said.

Lister was previously convicted for making false statements to a government agent in a case related to him illegally billing Medi-Cal, according to prosecutors.

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hailey.branson@latimes.com

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