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Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced charges against four people he says illegally diverted more than 17,000 pills through 264 fake prescriptions in Butler, Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties.
According to Shapiro yhree of the four defendants charged currently work or have worked in the medical field. “My Office is committed to prosecuting drug dealers, whether they’re operating on street corners, in doctors’ offices—or from behind an illegally-obtained prescription pad,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Prescription drugs are fueling the opioid crisis and I am focused on stopping illegal diversions of these powerful opioid medications.”
Sylvia Marino, 53, of Blackstone Road, Leechburg, was employed as a nurse at a neurology practice in Allegheny County. Melissa Riggle, 37, of Arizona Drive, Lower Burrell, was also employed at the same neurology practice as a medical assistant. Marino and Riggle are both charged with multiple felony counts of insurance fraud and drug offenses. Marino is additionally charged with other related misdemeanors.
Between March 2014 and April 2018, authorities allege Marino called in and/or wrote fraudulent prescriptions for herself, her daughter, and Melissa Riggle for approximately 118 fake prescriptions for 12,000 Oxycodone and Hydrocodone pills. Marino used a blank prescription pad belonging to a doctor at the practice where she worked to forge the prescriptions, without the doctor’s knowledge. Marino’s daughter was a patient of the doctor’s, but had never been legitimately prescribed Oxycodone or Hydrocodone. Marino also agreed to write out fraudulent Xanax and narcotic prescriptions for Riggle’s use according to the Attorney General’s office.
The case came to light after The Giant Eagle Pharmacy Security Department referred the case to the Insurance Fraud Section of the Office of Attorney General after an attempt to verify a prescription with the doctor whose name was on it according to Shapiro’s office.
In unrelated case, Corrina Hoggard, 44, of Brandt School Road, Wexford, is charged with multiple felony counts of insurance fraud, drug offenses and other related misdemeanors. Hoggard obtained Oxycodone, Hydrocodone and other drugs, by filling 54 fraudulent prescriptions by using her and her husband’s names at Rite Aid and Walgreens pharmacies in Butler County.
Attorney General Shapiro praised the pharmacists and doctors who assisted the investigation. “Because of these professionals’ vigilance, our agents and other police were able to identify and end these fraudulent prescriptions,” Shapiro said. “We’re asking pharmacists and medical professionals across our Commonwealth: If you see something wrong, tell us. We’ll act on your information.”
In the third unrelated case, Joyce Gallagher, 53, of Kramer Way, Pittsburgh, stands charged with felony charges of insurance fraud, drug offenses and other related misdemeanors after illegally filling 92 fake prescriptions to illegally obtain over 2,900 Oxycodone and Hydrocodone pills.
According to Shapiro The Bureau of Narcotics Investigations of the Office of Attorney General (OAG) received a call from a doctor at an oral surgery practice who reported two pharmacies in the Pittsburgh area regarding fraudulent prescriptions. This information was referred to the Insurance Fraud Section of OAG. Their investigation revealed Gallagher was a former employee of the same oral surgery practice, and she was writing prescriptions under the names of her father, three sisters, brother-in-law and nephew, without the doctor’s knowledge according to court filings.
Since taking office, Attorney General Shapiro says the office has increased arrests of doctors and other medical personnel for illegal diversions of prescription drugs by 72 percent.