Seven charged with 'doctor shopping' for prescription pills
SHAMOKIN - Seven local residents and a Wilkes-Barre area man have been charged by the state attorney general's office and local police with "doctor shopping" for deceptively obtaining pain killers from multiple doctors to support their drug addiction or sell the pills for profit.
The 1 1/2-year ongoing investigation spearheaded by narcotics agent Duane Musser of the attorney general's office drug diversion unit and members of the Northumberland-Montour Drug Task Force has resulted in felony offenses of acquiring or obtaining possession of a controlled substance by deception being filed against Joshua Howard Greenwood, 35, and his 28-year-old wife, Krystal M. Greenwood, of 1103 E. Race St., Coal Township; Christopher P. Bachorik, 42, and Charlotte M. Allen, 30, both of 108 S. Fifth St., Shamokin; Jennifer D. Degel, 41, of 278 Beurys Road, Ashland; Tammie S. Miller, 45, of 335 Susquehanna St., Trevorton; Wade J. Smink, 38, of 844 Chestnut St., Kulpmont, and Gene Allen Hale, 41, of 131 Eno St., Plymouth.
Musser said Mahoning Township police in Montour County plan to file similar offenses against a suspect in the near future.
Addiction or profit
According to a criminal complaint, Musser initiated the investigation after becoming aware of several people living in Northumberland County who were receiving simultaneous prescriptions for narcotics from prescribers in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Maryland and Delaware. Musser explained "doctor shopping" is the practice of a patient receiving overlapping prescriptions for controlled substances from multiple prescribers without informing each prescriber about the other prescriptions.
"They are shopping for doctors who will give them what they want," Musser said Wednesday afternoon at Shamokin Police Station where several of the defendants were arraigned by Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III. "They feed their own addiction or sell the pills for profit."
Musser said "doctor shopping" is prevalent in most states, including Pennsylvania. But police said Wednesday's "doctor shopping" arrests were the first they encountered in the Shamokin area.
The agent said the Greenwoods, Bachorik and Allen worked together in obtaining the opiates, while the remaining defendants acquired their drugs independently.
He said thousands of pain killers were obtained through the process.
Musser pointed out that the doctors and pharmacies deceived by the defendants were victims in the crimes.
The Greenwoods, Bachorik and Allen turned themselves over to police Wednesday morning and were released after posting bail during their arraignments before Gembic. Degel was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Hugh Jones of Mount Carmel and set free after posting bail. Hale and Miller were not in custody as of Wednesday night. Smink was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Benjamin Apfelbaum of Sunbury and released on his own recognizance.
The Greenwoods each face 11 counts of "doctor shopping" filed by Musser and Shamokin Cpl. Bryan Primerano relating to incidents at Rite Aid Pharmacy in Shamokin between March 27, 2012, and Feb. 4, and Weis Pharmacy in Coal Township between July 10, 2012, and March 18.
Krystal Greenwood is accused of having prescriptions filled at Rite Aid for oxycodone/hydrochloride or oxycodone/acetaminophen that were authorized by Dr. Mahmood Nassir, of Sunbury, by deceiving the physician into believing he was the only prescriber who approved the controlled substances for the defendant.
Her husband allegedly had prescriptions filled at Weis Pharmacy for oxycodone hydrochloride authorized by Dr. Daniel Walker of the Penn Medical Group in Lehighton.
Joshua Greenwood also is charged by Coal Township Patrolman Edward Purcell with two counts of possession with intent to deliver five tablets of oxycodone.
Krystal Greenwood is charged by Purcell with possession with intent to deliver five oxycodone pills and criminal conspiracy.
Police said the offenses occurred Nov. 29 at the Greenwood residence.
Bachorik is charged by Primerano and Musser with 20 counts of acquiring or obtaining possession of a controlled substance by deception. Police said the defendant had prescriptions filled at Rite Aid Pharmacy for oxycodone/acetaminophen, fetanyl, oyxcontin and/or morphine sulfate authorized by Nassir by deceiving the doctor into believing he was the only prescriber approving controlled substances for him.
Police said Bachorik's offenses occurred between March 23, 2012, and Feb. 5.
Allen was charged by Primerano and Musser with 10 counts of the same offense for having prescriptions filled at Rite Aid Pharmacy between July 24 and Dec. 14, 2012, for oxycodone/acetaminophen and oxycontin authorized by Nassir.
Degel is charged by Mount Carmel Police Chief Todd Owens and Musser with one count of acquiring or obtaining possession of a controlled substance involving a Dec. 24 incident at the Geisinger Health System Clinic in Den Mar Gardens. Police reported Degel is accused of obtaining a 30-day prescription (180 tablets) for oxycodone/acetaminophen from Dr. Jill Nye by deceiving the physician into believing that she was receiving no additional prescriptions for the same drug from other prescribers.
Miller is charged by Musser and Primerano with one count of the same offense for having eight prescriptions filled for oxycodone/acetaminophe authorized by Nassir, and 12 prescriptions filled for oxycodone/hydrochloride and two prescriptions filled for oxycodone/acetaminophen authorized by Dr. Raymond Kraynak of Mount Carmel.
Police said the offenses occurred between Jan. 14 and Aug. 1, 2012, at CVS Pharmacy in Shamokin.
Smink is charged by Sunbury Officer Travis Bremigen with one count of acquiring or obtaining possession of a controlled substance in connection with a Feb. 2 incident on North Fourth Street in Sunbury.
Hale is charged by Musser and Primerano with three counts of the same offense for having prescriptions filled for oxycodone/acetaminophen authorized by Dr. Douglas Buffington at the Elysburg Family Practice Center by deceiving Buffington into believing he was the only prescriber authorizing controlled substances to the defendant.