A recent FBI investigation resulted in the July 31 arrest of former Yale New Haven Hospital resident Jennifer Farrell. She is charged with 35 counts of narcotic distribution without a legitimate medical purpose. 

An affidavit publicly filed by an FBI investigator alleges that while employed at the hospital, Farrell exploited a software malfunction to order fraudulent opioid prescriptions without requisite approval from her supervising doctor. According to the document, the scheme involved an agreement between Farrell and an unnamed female. The individual is suspected of paying Farrell to write electronic prescriptions and giving Farrell a portion of the pills. 

If found guilty, Farrell could face a maximum jail sentence of 20 years on each count, according to a press release on Wednesday from the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut.

The hospital discovered the software flaw during an investigation into Farrell’s conduct, which revealed that she used eight patients’ names to write what the hospital believes amounts to roughly 70 fraudulent prescriptions for the opioid oxycodone, according to the affidavit filed earlier this month. 

In the press release, officials stated that Farrell wrote at least 35 fraudulent prescriptions using names of at least five individuals who she did not treat while a resident at the hospital.  

State records show that Farrell has surrendered her license to prescribe controlled substances in Connecticut, and her license to practice medicine in the state is no longer active. 

“We are aware that a former Yale New Haven Hospital resident was recently arrested and we are fully cooperating with the authorities,” hospital spokesperson Mark D’Antonio told the News. “As soon as we became aware of the allegations, the resident was placed on administrative leave.”

In addition to the illegal prescriptions, FBI investigators also intercepted packages addressed to Farrell containing the opioids oxycodone hydrochloride and fentanyl, which Farrell admitted she ordered from the “dark web,” according to the affidavit.  

Farrell’s attorney Kelly Barrett ’02 did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the case against Farrell. An FBI spokesperson told the News that he could not comment on ongoing cases. 

Per the affidavit, Farrell’s suspected scheme unraveled when an unnamed individual who Farrell never treated reported suspicious conduct to New Haven police in March.

The individual had received an unexpected text message alert that a Walgreens prescription was ready for her to pick up. After speaking with a pharmacist at the location, the individual learned that unknown to her, her acquaintance — Farrell’s suspected conspirator — picked up the pills using out-of-state identification. 

The same individual then told investigators that she received a call from Farrell roughly a day after she reported the incident to police. The individual recalled Farrell telling her that the individual’s actions made her a perpetrator in the illegal scheme, and she also claimed that Farrell asked her to fabricate a cover story regarding the illicit prescription, the affidavit stated. 

Farrell allegedly told the individual that Farrell could claim that she lost her hospital-issued cell phone — which can be used to sign electronic prescriptions — and that an unidentified party ordered the illicit prescriptions through the lost device, according to the individual’s recollection of the conversation included in the affidavit.  

Farrell was released after her arrest on a $200,000 bond and is currently located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her conduct is being investigated by three federal entities: the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Diversion Control Group. Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Cherry LAW ’12 will serve as the prosecutor for the case levied against Farrell. 

Before she was placed on leave, Farrell was set to graduate from the hospital’s emergency medicine residency program in 2021.

Marisa Peryer | marisa.peryer@yale.edu