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Local medical worker traded phony prescriptions for ‘lavish dinners,’ gifts

DEL MAR, Calif. — A Del Mar woman is accused of stealing the supplies she needed to forge prescriptions and then flipping the phony scripts for gifts from a buyer.

The charges, announced Thursday, come as part of “Operation Hypocritical Oath,” a pithily-named, DEA-led crackdown in California that identified eight other medical workers accused of similar schemes.

The nine medical professionals are accused “of diverting dangerous narcotics — primarily highly addictive opioids — to the black market,” according to a release from the US Department of Justice.

In the case with local ties, a 41-year-old from Del Mar named Monica Ann Berlin allegedly stole a signature stamp and prescription pads belonging to the Beverly Hills doctor who employed her. Berlin then used them to write phony prescriptions and distribute drugs to clients, investigators say.

Berlin’s buyer treated her to “lavish dinners and bought her gifts,” and she used coded terms such as “candies” or “Tic Tacs” in text messages about her scheme, according to the charges. In total, she is accused of forging 44 prescriptions between 2015 and 2017 — scripts that were then filled at pharmacies in Rancho Santa Fe and Beverly Hills.

Berlin is currently employed by a Del Mar-based medical company, according to the DOJ.

She was released on $1 million bond after a Feb. 14 appearance in U.S. District Court in San Diego. Berlin will return to court in Los Angeles next month.

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