Pharmacist jailed over defrauding the HSE of €70k has registration cancelled
A pharmacist jailed for six months over defrauding the HSE of some €70,000 over a number of years has had her registration as a pharmacist cancelled by order of the High Court.
Teresa Christina Crowley, aged 73, from Main St, Drimoleague, Co Cork, consented to the cancellation order, sought by the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland.
She previously pleaded guilty in April 2017 to 21 sample counts of theft and fraud where she stole some €70,000 from the HSE in an elaborate scheme involving falsifying drug payment scheme claims. A sentence of two and a half years was imposed of which all but six months was suspended.
At the High Court on Monday, a solicitor for the PSI said the cancellation of Ms Crowley’s registration was sought following an inquiry last December by the Society’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) into a complaint by the PSI Registrar following Ms Crowley’s conviction of 21 sample charges of deception by dishonesty and falsifying accounts.
Some 170 charges had been levelled against Ms Crowley following a Garda investigation arising from complaints by the HSE. She admitted 21 sample counts.
At the High Court on Monday, the PSI solicitor said, because of the “very serious” nature of the offences, the PCC had recommended Ms Crowley’s registration as a pharmacist be cancelled, the Council of the PSI agreed and wanted a court order to confirm the cancellation.
A solicitor representing Ms Crowley said she had “suffered greatly” throughout the Garda investigation and also suffered monetarily. She was consenting to the cancellation but asked that costs of the application not be awarded against her, he said.
Ms Crowley had been very successful with a “huge practice” in two pharmacies, he said. She had been a “very well off” woman but “millions” were taken from her by the HSE and she was “certainly not that well off now”.
Some of the offences arose because Ms Crowley had provided drugs to persons who had been taken off such drugs by the HSE, the solicitor added. She had not benefitted from that but she accepted what she did was wrong and she could not herself decide who should get drugs and who should not.
The PSI solicitor said it was entitled to the costs of the application.
The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, said the application arose as a result of Ms Crowley’s conviction and the subsequent inquiry by the PSI. The counts all arose as a result of her practising her profession as a pharmacist, Ms Crowley accepted, through her solicitor, her registration should be cancelled and the court had “no choice but to do so”.
It was “sad indeed” that such an order should be made against a 73-year-old woman who has been a pharmacist for a long time “but no other conclusion can be arrived at”, he said.
The judge added he was granting the costs of the application to the PSI because, while Ms Crowley “is not the wealthy woman she once was”, neither was there any “plea of penury” on her behalf.