Saturday September 29, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- A former local veterinarian was convicted of prescription drug fraud and given a 52-month suspended prison sentence earlier this week.

On Tuesday, 41-year-old Jennifer Ruopp, of Guilford, pleaded guilty to one felony count of prescription drug fraud and one misdemeanor count of narcotic possession.

Ruopp, who worked at the VCA Windham Animal Hospital in Brattleboro, had been dropping off and filling prescriptions for Dilaudid, or Hydromorphone, a opioid used to relieve pain.

Each of the 55 prescriptions she wrote and filled at Walgreens in Brattleboro were for a dog that Ruopp had treated after it was involved in a car accident in February 2011.

When police contacted the dog's owner to determine when the dog was last seen, the owner said they only filled the prescription once.

The investigation into the former veterinarian began after a clerk at Walgreens discovered the phone number and address for the dog's owners were invalid and the woman's name on file didn't match Ruopp's.

According to court documents Ruopp also filled prescriptions for Dilaudid at Hotel Pharmacy and Wal-Mart in Hinsdale, N.H.

Brattleboro Police Officer Jonathan Whiteman wrote in his affidavit that he met with Ruopp for a short time at the Brattleboro Retreat after she checked herself in.

"During the brief conversation Dr. Ruopp admitted that her abuse of Hydromorphone has been a long-term problem," Whiteman wrote.


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When Whiteman and a member of the DEA met with Ruopp again two weeks later, the woman described the origin of her drug problem.

Ruopp said she suffers from severe migraines brought on by stress. She said her home was in foreclosure, had filed for bankruptcy and was raising her partner's young grandchild.

Initially the drugs were to treat her migraines but it "became functional" and that she didn't feel well if she didn't have it.

Soon she started writing a fake prescription each week for the quantity she needed. The last one she filled was for 126 tablets, a two-week supply.

Whiteman wrote that Ruopp was cooperative and polite throughout the interview and that she voluntarily surrendered her license to the DEA officer.

As part of her sentencing, Ruopp was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service. She's not allowed to possess or consume alcohol or drugs, unless prescribed by a doctor; she cannot engage in any criminal behavior nor can she leave the state without permission from her probation officer.

If she violates any of her conditions of probation, Ruopp could be subject to jail time.

Josh Stilts can be reached at jstilts@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.