- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
After a four-week trial, Grace M. Bellosi-Mitchell, 45, of Dunkirk was found not guilty Tuesday, Dec. 18, of all 11 charges of prescription medication misconduct by a federal jury in U.S. District Court.
Bellosi-Mitchell was indicted on charges of three counts of distributing and dispensing CDS, two counts each of health care fraud and aggravated identity theft and one count each of conspiracy to distribute and possess CDS with intent to distribute, possession of CDS with intent to distribute, conspiracy to commit health care fraud and witness tampering.
Robert W. Biddle, one of Bellosi-Mitchell’s attorneys, said the not guilty verdict “came back in less than one day” after the trial ended.
“We’re very pleased that the jury carefully reviewed the evidence and found that she was innocent,” Biddle said of himself and attorney Robert Bonsib, Bellosi-Mitchell’s lead council. “For a four-week trial, that’s a pretty quick not guilty verdict.”
Prior to the trial, which began Tuesday, Nov. 27, the charge of witness tampering was dropped by prosecutors, he said.
Biddle said the federal charges stemmed from a search and seizure warrant served by the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office at Bellosi-Mitchell’s home regarding an arson case.
In June 2010, Bellosi-Mitchell was one of eight people indicted in Calvert County in relation to an arson at the Country Plaza Shopping Center in Dunkirk in March 2010 that closed eight businesses. She was the owner of Just Tan It Salon and, according to original reports, investigators determined the operators of the salon had a reported financial conflict with the owner of Dunkirk Pain and allegedly set the fire.
A person who paid attention to early media reports called the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s office with a tip, setting off a four-month-long investigation that allowed them to obtain search warrants for homes of those allegedly involved, including Bellosi-Mitchell.
Along with finding evidence allegedly tying Bellosi-Mitchell to the arson, investigators also allegedly found oxycodone, oxycontin, Percocet, fentanyl, duragesic, amphetamine and Adderall.
In Calvert County, Bellosi-Mitchell was indicted on multiple arson charges. In January, she entered an Alford plea, which acknowledges the state has enough evidence for a conviction but does not admit guilt, to conspiracy-accessory after the statute and was given four years of unsupervised probation.
According to the federal indictment, a co-conspirator, who was a medical doctor licensed by the state and practiced in Capitol Heights, prescribed Bellosi-Mitchell, her family members and her associates the prescription medications between September 2009 and March 2010. The indictment alleged the majority of the prescriptions were written without the benefit of a medical examination and were not issued in the usual course of medical practice, and that the co-conspirator wrote some of the prescriptions for people he had never met or treated as patients.
Bellosi-Mitchell, according to the indictment, would distribute these medications to others “outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.” The indictment alleged she created medical files for other people to obtain prescriptions and would use another person’s identification to get the medications.
Biddle said the issue for the jury to decide during the four-week trial was whether Bellosi-Mitchell possessed illegal prescription medications.
“The verdict certainly reflected … that they were lawful,” Biddle said of the prescriptions.
Bellosi-Mitchell is “very happy” about the verdict returned by the jury, Biddle said.
“She’s pleased to be able to spend the holidays with her family and get on with the rest of her life after being cleared of these very serious allegations, which have been conclusively disproven in court,” he said.