A Clackamas man was sentenced to federal prison Monday for distributing oxycodone pills gained through fraudulent prescriptions, leading to an overdose death.
The Honorable Michael W. Mosman sentenced 33-year-old chiropractor Mark Steven Gardner to 50 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
“The opioid epidemic has cost more than 500,000 American lives,” Acting United States Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug said. “The death toll in this country is staggering and the tragic loss that surviving family members must endure is devastating.
“This prosecution represents our office’s firm commitment to hold those accountable who unlawfully distribute controlled substances that results in death.”
Gardner started forging fraudulent oxycodone prescriptions in November 2015, using a prescription pad belonging to a physician with whom he shared a Portland office building.
He used the doctor’s name to fill the prescriptions over the next four months.
Others were instructed to fill the prescriptions when Gardner knew the doctor’s office was closed, and he would then answer the phone and pose as the doctor when pharmacies would call to verify the prescriptions.
Those who received the oxycodone pills from Gardner would typically give him half of the pills received.
On January 7, 2016, Gardner forged a prescription for 26-year-old Starlin Swan for 90 30mg pills of oxycodone, though the pharmacy only filled it for 60 pills.
The following day he called 911, saying he had found Swan unresponsive, and paramedics found her dead.
An autopsy revealed the cause to be an oxycodone overdose.
Gardner forged 48 prescriptions for 25 different people in total, including scripts written after Swan’s death, and he dispersed 2,352 30mg pills.
His operation continued for four months before authorities discovered him, and he was stripped of his chiropractic license.
On May 15, 2019, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a three-count indictment in which Gardner was charged with distribution of oxycodone resulting in death, distribution of oxycodone, and acquiring or obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge.
On April 19, 2021, he pleaded guilty to unlawful distribution of oxycodone.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, and Homeland Security Investigations.
It was prosecuted by Peter D. Sax, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.