DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa.– Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced charges against 10 people who used home computers to write fake prescriptions and obtain more than 3,500 Oxycodone pills and other drugs across 17 Pennsylvania counties.
The prescription pill mill was run by Tracie Peurifoy, 37, of the 1300 block of Devereaux Street, Philadelphia, who created fake prescriptions on her home computer using the names of physicians from across Pennsylvania – none of whom were involved in the scheme. Peurifoy is charged with violating the Controlled Substance Act, conspiracy, and corrupt organizations.
“We’re prosecuting dealers who are fueling this crisis, whether it’s heroin on street corners or illegal pills from a doctor’s pad,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Prescription drug abuse is fueling the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania, and my office is focused on stopping the illegal diversion of these powerful drugs.”
Studies show that 80 percent of heroin users began their drug abuse by using prescription drugs. In 2017, Office of Attorney General agents charged 216 persons for illegally diverting prescription drugs — a 72 percent increase over 2016. Since Attorney General Shapiro took office in 2017, his office has collected and destroyed more than 63 tons of drugs through partnerships with local law enforcement, district attorneys, the Pennsylvania State Police and the National Guard.
The pill mill case began last June when a Luzerne County doctor noticed a prescription which he did not write had been filled using his name. He reported the issue to the Office of Attorney General. Investigators reviewed surveillance video to determine that Russel Morris, 32, of Granite Road, Melrose Park, had fraudulently filled the prescription. Agents also learned that Morris had been driving a rental car at the time — leased by Peurifoy.
Attorney General Shapiro praised this physician and all doctors who supported the investigation. “Because of these doctors’ vigilance, our agents and local police were able to identify and break up this prescription pill mill,” Shapiro said. “We’re asking pharmacists and medical professionals across our Commonwealth: If you see something wrong, say something. We’ll act on your information.”
Working with Fairview Township police, Central Berks Regional police, Southern York Regional police, and North Cornwall police, Attorney General investigators learned that Peurifoy and her conspirators used the names of actual Pennsylvania doctors to falsify prescriptions. The doctors were not involved.
Peurifoy falsified the prescriptions and gave them to her conspirators to fill, along with rental cars leased in her name and instructions on which pharmacies to use. The conspirators travelled to 17 different counties to fill the fraudulent prescriptions.
Those counties were York, Luzerene, Lackawanna, Allegheny, Delaware, Montgomery, Lebanon, Philadelphia, Pike, Wayne, Centre, Cambria, Somerset, Berks, Cumberland, Northampton and Dauphin Counties.
During the nine months of its operation, the ring obtained at least 3,500 pills for Oxycodone, Alprazolam and Flexeril.
Investigators estimate these pills were worth approximately $75,000. The prescription drugs were given to Peurifoy by her conspirators in exchange for a $150 payment per filled prescription.
In addition to Peurifoy and Morris, eight others were charged with various felony drug offenses:
- Latoya Peurifoy, 41, of Philadelphia*
- Christian Eleby-Lackey, 30, of Philadelphia
- Shane Harris, 24, of Elkins Park
- Dashonna Hoskins, 22, of Philadelphia*
- Troy Thomas, 29, Philadelphia*
- Sharee Hall, 33, of Chester*
- Marquan Toure El, 24, of Philadelphia
- Lueveater Smith, 37, of Philadelphia
“Thanks to strong law enforcement collaboration, this fraudulent prescription pill mill is shut down,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “I want to thank the police departments in Fairview Township, Central Berks, Southern York and North Cornwall for working together with my office on this case.”
The defendants will be prosecuted by Robert Smulktis, appointed last year by Attorney General Shapiro as Director of Diversion. Suspected illegal activity involving the diversion of prescription drugs can be reported by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE: Attorney General’s office