Bunch release revoked

Published 9:19 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A local nurse practitioner facing a 260-count federal indictment was taken into custody after violating the terms of her pre-trial release.

Amanda Bunch, 42, of Washington, was detained by U.S. Marshals Monday following a hearing in Raleigh.

April 19, Bunch and five others were arrested by agents from the State Bureau of Investigation and the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. The six were charged in U.S. District Court for fraudulently obtaining prescription medications, including painkillers. Bunch faces charges relating to prescriptions she allegedly wrote “outside the scope of professional practice.”

According to a motion filed May 7 by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bunch violated a condition of her release when she attempted to contact the wife of Justin Mixon, a co-defendant in the case. Bunch sent three text messages to Mixon’s wife asking for a brief summary of Mixon’s medical history before Bunch saw him as a patient, the motion reads. The document also states that Bunch discussed the same request with a coworker of Mixon’s wife.

According to the terms of her pre-trial release, Bunch was not allowed to contact other victims or witnesses in the case. Bunch had not yet retained defense counsel when she attempted to make contact with Mixon’s wife, said her attorney, Joseph E. Zeszotarksi Jr.

“Based upon Ms. Bunch’s conversations with various attorneys, she learned that it was important that she accumulate records that are pertinent and relevant for her defense. … The defendant’s attempt to contact Kyra Mixon was based solely upon an effort to obtain relevant information pertinent to Ms. Bunch’s defense,” Zeszotarski wrote in response to the government’s motion to revoke her release. At Monday’s hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge David W. Daniel found she had violated the conditions of her release.

Shortly after Daniel’s decision, Zeszotarski filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that long incarceration awaiting trial would be especially harsh for Bunch considering she is gainfully employed and shares custody of child. A second hearing to decide whether the revocation verdict is upheld is set for 2 p.m. today.

Trials for Bunch and co-defendants Lori Melton and Anna Moore were postponed until October to give defense counsel additional preparation time.

Other defendants in the case — Mixon, Kevin Dail Owens and Arron Jones — remain on schedule for June trial.