NE pharmacist charged in drug operation

Au­thor­it­ies say he filled bogus pre­scrip­tions as part of a ring that charged people a fee to help them get the drugs.

A Castor Gar­dens phar­macist was among 53 people charged crim­in­ally last week in con­nec­tion with a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar pill mill spe­cial­iz­ing in oxy­codone dis­tri­bu­tion.

U.S. At­tor­ney Zane Dav­id Memeger on Aug. 10 an­nounced the 498-count fed­er­al in­dict­ment, which names Ih­sanul­lah “Sean” Maaf, 33, a phar­macist at North­east Phar­macy, 6730 Bustleton Ave., as a con­spir­at­or.

Ac­cord­ing to the court fil­ing, Phil­adelphia res­id­ent Wil­li­am Stukes, 49, and Wil­low Grove-based fam­ily phys­i­cian Nor­man M. Wer­th­er, 71, mas­ter­minded the scheme.

Stukes al­legedly re­cruited dozens of people who were taken to Wer­th­er’s med­ic­al of­fice for bogus ex­am­in­a­tions. In ex­change for a cash fee, the doc­tor would then pre­scribe oxy­codone-based drugs to the pa­tients, al­though there was no med­ic­al jus­ti­fic­a­tion for the pre­scrip­tions, au­thor­it­ies claim.

Oxy­codone is a gen­er­ic term for a pain re­lief drug de­rived from opi­um and found in brand med­ic­a­tions like Oxy­Con­tin and Per­co­cet.

Wer­th­er al­legedly charged $150 per “pa­tient.” The pre­scrip­tions would then be taken to area phar­ma­cies, not­ably North­east Phar­macy, where they would be filled. Stukes would col­lect the pills and re­sell them on the black mar­ket for profit, au­thor­it­ies claim.

Mem­bers of Wer­th­er’s of­fice staff al­legedly were in on the scheme and handled the money paid to him. Au­thor­it­ies claim that Stukes’ or­gan­iz­a­tion earned more than $5 mil­lion and dealt more than 200,000 pills il­leg­ally from Septem­ber 2009 through Ju­ly 2011.

In ad­di­tion to filling pre­scrip­tions he knew to be bogus, Maaf laundered the money he re­ceived for his ser­vices, ac­cord­ing to the court fil­ing. The phar­macist al­legedly struc­tured his cash bank de­pos­its to avoid fed­er­al re­port­ing re­quire­ments.

He is charged with 119 counts of money laun­der­ing and 119 counts of struc­tur­ing fin­an­cial trans­ac­tions, along with a single count of ag­grav­ated struc­tur­ing fin­an­cial trans­ac­tions.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment is seek­ing his for­feit­ure of $920,574, rep­res­ent­ing the amount of money he al­legedly laundered.

In­cluded in the list of de­fend­ants are Wer­th­er’s of­fice staff, al­leged drug run­ners and drivers, al­leged bulk pill buy­ers and al­leged “pseudo” pa­tients. ••

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