Connections target of civil complaint from feds over handling of drugs used in substance abuse treatment

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The United States government filed a civil complaint against Connections Community Support Programs, Inc., one of the state’s largest substance abuse treatment centers.

The action alleges the organization, among other things, failed to keep track of drugs it was administering.

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David Weiss

Also named were current and former corporate officers, Catherine Devaney McKay, William Northey, and Steven Davis.

The government alleged that Connections and its corporate officers violated the Controlled Substances Act by “negligently failing” to keep required documentation of its distribution and dispensing of controlled substances, particularly methadone and buprenorphine used in Connections’ treatment of opioid use disorder. Each violation of the recordkeeping requirements under the Controlled Substances Act carries a civil penalty of up to $15,040.

During an inspection and audit in March 2019, diversion investigators from the Drug Enforcement Administration determined that Connections was unable to provide records identifying the location of more than 244 bottles of methadone liquid and more than 1,100 doses of buprenorphine. Subsequent investigation revealed numerous additional citations from DEA at multiple Connections locations as well as dozens of additional violations not specifically identified in DEA inspections.

As detailed in the complaint filed today, the government alleged that Connections has a long history of negligent failure to maintain proper records, in addition to numerous instances in which required records were created after the fact and backdated to make it appear that they had been created at an earlier time.

The United States also alleged that, on numerous occasions, Connections represented to DEA that it was undertaking additional measures to improve its compliance and then failed to do so.

The complaint also alleged that McKay, Northey, and Davis, all of whom were corporate officers of Connections, negligently delegated responsibility for compliance with the Controlled Substances Act to individuals they knew were unqualified and ill-suited to those responsibilities, and that they failed to provide adequate training and supervision for those individuals.

“As one of the largest providers of substance abuse treatment in Delaware, Connections is well aware of the extent of the opioid crisis in our state,” said U.S. Attorney David Weiss. “By failing for years to properly document their distribution and dispensing of controlled substances, Connections and its executives have shirked their responsibility to ensure that they were not contributing to the crisis by creating an environment in which their own inventory of controlled substances could be diverted for abuse or sale.”

“Narcotics treatment programs such as Connections Community Support Programs are entrusted with providing critical care and support to people struggling with opioid use disorder. Their mission is more vital than ever, especially during the current opioid crisis,” said Jonathan A. Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division. “With that responsibility comes the obligation to properly safeguard and document the dispensing of treatment drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine, which Connections and its corporate officers failed to do.”

This matter was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The investigation and litigation are being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laura D. Hatcher and Dylan J. Steinberg.

The complaint contains allegations only, and not findings of liability.

Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the District of Delaware.

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