WALLA WALLA -- A former Washington State Penitentiary pharmacist has been arraigned on a federal indictment accusing him of fraudulently acquiring drugs at the prison from 2010 into the spring of last year.
Nathaniel A. Baker, 33, of Walla Walla, reportedly appeared Friday in U.S. District Court in Yakima where innodent pleas were entered for him on three criminal charges.
His trial is scheduled for March 12 in Richland. Meanwhile, he remains free on his own recognizance with conditions of release.
If convicted as charged, he faces a maximum sentence of up to 28 years.
The grand jury indictment was filed Dec. 13.
Baker is accused of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud for allegedly acquiring hydromorphone, oxycodone and methadone by making false entries into pharmacy documents and removing substances from blister packs at the penitentiary.
A second count accuses him of obtaining methadone, hydrocodone, oxycodone and phentermine by forging prescriptions at a Safeway pharmacy from 2008 through May 2011.
He also faces a charge alleging he possessed hydromorphone, oxycodone, morphine, phentermine and methadone with the intent to distribute them on April 26 of last year.
Further information surrounding the alleged crimes wasn't available.
Prison officials placed Baker on administrative leave with pay April 26 after they became aware of the criminal investigation.
He voluntarily resigned May 16.
A provider credential search on the state Department of Health website reveals Nathaniel A. Baker's pharmacist license expired Aug. 16.
Tom Rice, first assistant U.S. Attorney in Spokane, said in an interview Tuesday that the federal agency has "somewhat of an emphasis in health-care fraud."
All drugs are regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and his office takes alleged violations seriously, Rice added.