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Feds indict 53 in oxycodone scam


By Joe Carlson
Posted: August 10, 2011 - 6:00 pm ET
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Federal authorities filed a 498-count indictment (PDF) against a pharmacist, a physician and a network of dealers, runners and organizers in southeast Pennsylvania accused in a $5 million scheme to obtain more than 200,000 narcotic oxycodone pills and sell them to buyers on the street.

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The indictment says that between June 2009 and this month, the 53 people named in the indictment conspired to defraud federal healthcare programs and illegally distribute controlled substances. Most of the people indicted were fake patients accused of receiving as little as $150 in exchange for receiving unneeded prescriptions for oxycodone.

Investigators alleged that three people were at the heart of the conspiracy: Dr. Norman Werther, 71, a physician who would write bogus prescriptions from his practice in Willow Grove, Pa.; pharmacist Ihsanullah Maaf, 33, who filled the drug orders at Northeast Pharmacy in Philadelphia and then laundered the proceeds; and William Stukes, 49, who recruited dozens of fake patients and then collected the pills for resale by street dealers.

“Doctors and pharmacists who illegally dispense narcotics and other controlled substances are no different than street corner drug dealers,” George Venizelos, special agent in charge at the FBI Philadelphia office (PDF), said in a news release.

Last week, federal investigators in Michigan charged 26 people in the Detroit area in a similar scheme, alleging that a network of 26 pharmacies and 10 physicians had diverted more than 6 million doses of medications.


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