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Larissa Doucette

Peter Riccio, owner of pharmacies in Hellertown and Palmer, PA, pleaded guilty to charges of illegal distribution of the drug butalbital, a Schedule II narcotic. According to a press release issued by the US Attorney’s office following the initial charges, patients answered online questionnaires that were “already marked with the correct answers to ensure that the customers were not disqualified from getting their prescriptions filled.” The results were then reviewed by physicians who issued prescriptions for drugs including Fioricet®, Soma®, and Ultram®. Federal prosecutors say that the practice violated federal law, which requires in-person consultation with a physician for a prescription to be valid. The press release also noted that during the course of the scheme, Web site operators paid millions of dollars to bank accounts controlled by those involved, including payments “from bank accounts located in Cyprus, Hong Kong, and Israel.” Riccio will face sentencing on March 14, 2014. Charges are still pending against Lena Lasher, who was the pharmacist-in-charge at the two pharmacies. Robert Imbernino, one of the physicians charged in the case, also pled guilty. More information is available at The Morning Call.