The first of nearly 20 defendants named in the state and federal prescription drug conspiracy cases with links to a Casper doctor pleaded guilty to one felony count in Natrona County District Court on Wednesday.

Amy Tomlinson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deliver Xanax (the generic is alprazolam), a Schedule IV drug, during a hearing before Judge Daniel Forgey.

During her plea, Tomlinson said she sometimes exchanged Xanax for other pills. She said she had visited Dr. Shakeel Kahn.

In exchange for Tomlinson's plea, Assistant District Attorney Trevor Schenk agreed to drop a second and more serious count to distribute oxycodone, a Schedule II drug.

Forgey ordered a presentence investigation, and Schenk said afterwards that she could receive probation or a one- to two-year prison term.

Tomlinson remains free on bond.

She is named in an indictment of 15 defendants in Natrona County District Court.

They are separate from those named in the federal court case: Dr. Shakeel Kahn, his wife Lyn Kahn, Shakeel's brother Nabeel Khan, and Paul Beland. They are charged in a 23-count indictment with drug, firearms, conspiracy and other crimes. They remain in custody awaiting trial.

Schenk said some of the defendants in the state court conspiracy case are not major dealers, but are addicts who started using when they were prescribed pain medication for illnesses or injuries and became hooked.

Local, state and federal agencies discovered Tomlinson and the other defendants during the investigation of Shakeel and Lyn Kahn, who were arrested Nov. 30.

Last year, the Wyoming Board of Pharmacy asked the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate Shakeel Kahn after reports he was prescribing abnormally excessive amounts of controlled substances, mostly opiates.

The DEA found people would travel from Massachusetts, the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere to obtain prescriptions for whatever they wanted by paying Shakeel Kahn $500 in cash and signing a waiver stating they would not call him a drug dealer.

That led to the federal case.

On a more local level, the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation joined the DEA, and found at least 15 people in Natrona and Fremont counties who also would obtain prescriptions for mostly opioids for their own use or for resale. (Oxycodone, for example, often resells for $1 per milligram.)

Ten of those 15 have been bound over for trial. All pleaded not guilty during their arraignments. It is unknown if others will be changing their pleas soon like Tomlinson did today.

Five other defendants have been named in the state court prescription drug conspiracy, and some of them also have been linked to heroin distribution. Schenk said they have not been arrested and made their initial appearances. One of them is linked to heroin distribution in Denver and his whereabouts are unknown, Schenk added.

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