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BOP Guard, Nurse in Virginia Indicted in Prisoner’s Death

On June 6, 2023, a federal grand jury in Virginia indicted two employees of the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for allegedly showing deliberate indifference to a prisoner suffering a cardiac emergency that killed him in 2021.

Guard Lt. Shronda Covington, 47, and Registered Nurse Tonya Farley, 52, are accused of violating the civil rights of prisoner Wade Waters, 47, by willfully ignoring the medical emergency he suffered at the Federal Correctional Institution in Petersburg on January 9, 2021. Farley is also accused of lying in her official report, and both employees are charged with lying to investigators in an attempt to cover up their negligence.

Waters died the following day. The former businessman from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, was serving an 18-year sentence handed down in 2021, after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and money laundering.

The conviction stemmed from Waters’ role in bilking a half-billion dollars from TRICARE – the government healthcare provider for U.S. military members – for expensive pain creams and weight-loss pills that were compounded with dubious and even legally controlled substances, like ketamine. Patients were prescribed the phony products, without necessarily needing them or even seeing a doctor, at exorbitant prices billed to the government – as high as $11,000-14,000 for each tube of cream. The bogus prescriptions were then placed on automatic refill to keep the scheme going. U.S. Marines were also involved in the scam, accepting $300 a month each, along with creams that were supposed to relieve their pain and scarring (but didn’t).

Waters was also ordered to pay $287.7 million in restitution and a $250,000 fine, plus forfeit over $56.5 million in cash and other assets.

For their indifference to his fatal cardiac event, in violation of his civil rights, Covington and Farley face life in federal prison if convicted. The charges of lying to investigators carry an additional maximum prison term of five years. Farley’s charge of filing a false report carries another maximum sentence of 20 years. A jury trial is currently set for January 2024 in Richmond. See: United States v. Covington, USDC (E.D.Va.), Case No. 3:23-cr-00068. 

Additional sources: Hattiesburg American, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger