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5:01 AM Fri, Nov. 16th

Prescription fraud lands Kingman woman behind bars

Audra Runge, 31

Audra Runge, 31

A former doctor's assistant previously convicted of forging prescriptions to feed her addiction was sentenced last week to 8½ years in prison after she was caught doing the same thing at her new job.

Prosecutors said Audra Runge, 31, obtained more than 1,300 Valium pills over a period of several months while she worked for a doctor's office last year. It was Runge's second arrest for such an offense and her fourth in addition to two other driving under the influence charges.

Runge faced a minimum of three and up to 10 years in prison under terms of a plea agreement with prosecutors. Her attorney, Joe Carver, told Judge Derek Carlisle that his client had already suffered the negative effects of her addiction.

"In essence, the criminal justice system will be punishing her for punishing herself," Carver said.

Runge's mother, clearly frustrated with her daughter, spoke at Wednesday's sentencing hearing and expressed her love and support, but told Runge that she had to find a way to get out of the grips of addiction. She called her daughter a shell of herself while she was abusing the pills and said she looked better while in jail.

"You've got pink in your cheeks again, not pale white like you were," she told her daughter. "You look like Audra again."

Runge was on probation for her first prescription forgery conviction when she was hired by the second doctor's office. When handing down the sentence, Carlisle expressed confusion as to why that doctor would put a recovering addict in the position of being able to steal more medication. He added that Runge's previous felony convictions factored heavily in the sentence he imposed.