Trial Cancelled for Clearfield Man Accused in Prescription Drug Scheme

CLEARFIELD – The trial was cancelled on Friday morning for a Clearfield man accused in a prescription drug scheme with a former medical physician assistant.

Dennis L. Lingle, 62, was set to stand trial on charges of conspiracy/acquire or obtain possession of controlled substance by misrepresentation; conspiracy/administration, etc. of controlled substance by practitioner; and acquire or obtain possession of controlled substance by misrepresentation, all felonies.

Holly J. Hipps, 43, of Olanta was also charged with conspiracy/acquire or obtain possession of controlled substance by misrepresentation; acquire or obtain possession of controlled substance by misrepresentation; conspiracy/administration, etc. of controlled substance by practitioner; and administration, etc. of controlled substance by practitioner, three counts, all felonies.

The charges stemmed from an investigation into an anonymous complaint against Hipps that was received by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Pittsburgh office in January of 2017, and it then notified the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.

Hipps was accused of writing Oxycodone prescriptions, starting in 2011 to Lingle and others who were not her patients.  She reportedly even wrote prescriptions after the expiration of her Pennsylvania medical license and DEA registration.

Hipps was formerly employed at the Caring Healthcare Network in Philipsburg and the Discovery House in Clearfield, according to court documents.

Hipps agreed to plead guilty to the offenses of conspiracy/acquire or obtain possession of controlled substance by misrepresentation; acquire or obtain possession of controlled substance by misrepresentation; and administration, etc. of controlled substance by practitioner.

Hipps was sentenced by President Judge Fredric Ammerman to a total of four to eight years in state prison back in October of 2018, according to a previously-published GANT News report. Click here to read previous coverage of Hipps’ case.

In a courtroom media briefing, District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. said Hipps had filed a Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) appeal, and that a motion was filed earlier this week to quash the commonwealth’s subpoena for her to testify at Lingle’s trial, which was set to begin Friday and to continue on Monday and Tuesday.

In addition, a court order issued by Ammerman on Friday morning stated that at the commonwealth’s request, “it is the order of this court that a nolle prosequi be entered to the charges filed [against Lingle].” Nolle prosequi is a Latin phrase, which means “will no longer prosecute.”

In Shaw’s request to the court for leave to enter a nolle prosequi, he wrote that it was being made because Hipps is a “necessary witness” in the commonwealth’s case against Lingle.

It was also being made because Hipps had recently – through her counsel – related an intent to invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination; and because of the pending PCRA appeal, the commonwealth can’t compel her testimony.

“The commonwealth is unable to proceed to trial without the testimony of Holly Hipps,” Shaw wrote.  However, during the media briefing, he stated his office intends to reevaluate the case against Lingle, and determine how to proceed at a later date.

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