One Drug Conspiracy Defendant Sentenced, One More Arraigned In Natrona County District Court
One man was sentenced and another arraigned for their roles in a state district court case related to the federal multi-state prescription drug conspiracy allegedly orchestrated by a Casper doctor and his wife.
Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey on Wednesday sentenced Charles Edwards to two concurrent four- to seven-year prison terms on one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, a Schedule II drug, and one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin.
Edwards was among 15 people named in an indictment accusing them of participating in a drug distribution conspiracy in Wyoming. Edwards was arrested along with nine other defendants last year in the course of the investigation of Dr. Shakeel Kahn and others, according to the affidavit accompanying the indictment filed in May.
In October, Edwards pleaded guilty to the Schedule II and heroin crimes in exchange for the state dismissing one count of conspiracy to deliver a Schedule IV controlled substance -- (the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam, the generic name for Xanax); and another count of conspiracy to deliver heroin.
Assistant District Attorney Trevor Schenk and Edwards' defense attorney Dylan Rosalez agreed Edwards would receive the prison sentence.
But on Wednesday, Rosalez asked Forgey to sentence Edwards to probation because he voluntarily entered and successfully completed a drug treatment program. "I see him more as a user than a dealer," Rosalez said.
During his change-of-plea hearing, Edwards said "he was just a driver" and received oxycodone in exchange for his drug addiction.
Wednesday, he told Forgey he's a drug addict and is now clean, and said he recently married and pointed to his wife in the courtroom.
But the judge agreed to abide by the terms of the plea agreement, saying probation was not appropriate.
Before Edwards was sentenced, another defendant in the case appeared for his arraignment.
Joseph Washakie pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to deliver Schedule II and Schedule IV drugs.
He remains free on bond.
Washakie and Faith Washakie, accused of the same conspiracy charges, were arrested after the initial 10 defendants. Three more defendants named in the indictment have yet to be taken into custody.
Court records say local, state and federal agencies discovered the defendants during the investigation of Kahn after reports he was prescribing abnormally excessive amounts of controlled substances, mostly opiates. The Arizona and Wyoming boards of medicine subsequently suspended Kahn's medical licenses for prescribing controlled substances outside the standard of care.
Authorities learned people would pay $500 in cash a month to Kahn for whatever prescription they wanted, as long as they signed a contract stating they were not wearing a wire, working with law enforcement, and promising
never to call the doctor a drug dealer. Kahn and his wife, Lyn, would fax the prescriptions for patients to Vape World, 211 E. 12th St., a now-closed business that was operated by his stepchildren.
The Kahns were arrested at their home in Casper on Nov. 30.
They and other defendants Paul Beland, and Shakeel Kahn's brother, Nabeel, remain in custody awaiting trial in federal court. A trial date has not been set.
They face charges including drug conspiracy distribution, use of communications in drug distribution, firearms charges, operating a continuing criminal enterprise, and most recently "Conspiracy to Dispense & Distribute Oxycodone, Alprazolam, Hydromorphone & Carisoprodol Resulting in Death."