Five area people are among those facing charges for allegedly using a doctor’s Drug Enforcement Administration identification number to call in unauthorized prescriptions to area pharmacies.
Rebekah R. Carwithen, 24, of Monessen; Sabrina D. Thomas, 27, of Fairbank; Jacqueline R. Keys, 33, of West Newton; Adam L. Fincik, 35, of West Newton; Rhonda R. Anthony, 43, of West Newton, each face several charges, said state Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
Brooke N. Cross, 27, of Largo, Fla, was also charged in the case.
State police alleged that Thomas, and later Cross, fraudulently called in prescriptions for Buprenorphine, an opioid, and Gabapentin, a nerve pain and anti-seizure medication. They used the DEA number of Dr. Nabir Jabbour, without his consent or knowledge, police said.
The remaining defendants either assisted in the scheme or obtained the illegally diverted drugs, police said. The alleged scheme ran between June 2015 and February 2016 in Westmoreland and Fayette counties and police alleged the group diverted at least 798 doses of Buprenorphine.
Police said Thomas was Jabbour’s office manager, and became friendly with Cross, who was one of the doctor’s patients. Thomas and Cross agreed that Thomas would call in prescriptions in Cross’ name, using Jabbour’s information, according to the complaint.
Cross, according to the charges, gave Thomas other people’s names and dates of birth to use in calling in the phony prescriptions to various Westmoreland and Fayette county pharmacies.
When Thomas “grew tired” of making the calls herself, police said, she gave Cross Jabbour’s DEA number so Cross could call in prescriptions herself. Cross was caught picking up a prescription at a pharmacy in New Stanton, and later told police she went to Jabbour’s office to “detox” because she had an addiction to pain pills, according to the arrest affidavit.
Anthony reportedly told police she participated in the scheme to make some extra money. She told police she sold the pills for money or gave them to Carwithen, her daughter. Police said Anthony told them Carwithen is a recovering heroin addict.
Jabbour reportedly told police Cross is the only one of the defendants who was a patient, and said he did not authorize the prescriptions called in on her behalf, nor did he authorize the ones called in for Carwithen, Anthony, Keys or Fincik.
A complaint filed in the cases lists at least 22 instances where illegal prescriptions were called in.
“The illegal diversion of prescription drugs is harming our communities, and my office is committed to investigating these cases to protect the public safety of all Pennsylvanians,” said Shapiro. “These individuals took advantage of their positions to unlawfully obtain prescription drugs for illicit purposes. Thanks to strong collaboration between the OAG Medicaid Fraud Control Section and the Pennsylvania state police, the defendants are being brought to justice.”
All but Cross were arraigned Wednesday before Westmoreland County Magisterial District Judge Mark Mansour. Each faces charges of acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, corrupt organizations, forgery and identity theft. Those who were arraigned were released on an unsecured $10,000 bond.
Last year, Jabbour was indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of unlawful distribution of Buprenorphine, maintaining a drug-involved premises, health care fraud and money laundering.