Woman indicted in prescription drug-ring case accepts plea deal

Kayla Tiara Caldwell
Kayla Tiara Caldwell

One of 12 people indicted in a probe of a prescription drug ring allegedly run by health-care workers has pleaded guilty to prescription fraud.

Kayla Tiara Caldwell, 26, accepted a plea agreement Friday, admitting she fraudulently obtained a prescription for oxycodone in Harrison County on Nov. 25, 2015.

She and 11 others were arrested after a grand jury indicted them on June 21 following investigation of three workers at Merit Health’s Gulf Oaks Outpatient Center in Biloxi.

A 42-count indictment alleges they conspired to dispense, distribute and acquire controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice. The indictment alleges the pill-ring conspiracy began sometime in 2014 and operated until the time of the indictment, June 21.

Other drugs named in the indictment are hydrocodone, alprazolam, Adderall and Klonopin.

Caldwell was indicted on two counts of prescription fraud and a conspiracy charge.

She faces up to four years in prison, a year’s probation and a $250,000 fine.

Caldwell remains free on bond. U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden will sentence her Jan. 11.

She could be called to testify at the trial of her co-defendants.

The health care workers have been identified as Andrea Reene Opoku, 34; Nikita Marie Piernas, 29; and Tyrone Leonard Thomas, 36. They are accused of dispensing and distributing prescriptions for controlled substances under the name of at least one doctor without his knowledge.

The others indicted are Beverly Ann Clayton, 53; Brittany Jalisa Payne, 27; Marcus Deshawn Price, 27; Terry O’Neal Grant, 30; Thomas Luther Davis, 28; Thomas Elliott Williams, 28; and Cauricia Williams and James Thomas Davis III, ages unknown.

Their trial has been re-set on a court calendar that starts Nov. 6.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews