A former doctor’s office employee is facing charges she forged more than 100 prescriptions for $240,000 worth of oxycodone pills.
Tammy Thomas, 46 of Mount Pleasant, is charged with criminal conspiracy, forgery, possession with the intent to deliver, possession of a controlled substance and procurement by fraud. Police said Thomas forged 104 prescriptions for a total of 8,000 30mg oxycodone pills worth $240,000 on the street. Police filed the charges Wednesday morning after a nearly year-long investigation.
The case began in November 2013 when detectives with Greensburg police were called about a suspicious prescription being filled at the Shop N Save on Pittsburgh Street. The pharmacy employee called Dr. Sivarama Guntur to ask if the prescription was valid. Guntur said over the phone Wednesday he asked the employee if the script was handwritten or computer generated. When the employee said it was handwritten, Guntur said he knew it was fake because he very rarely ever writes out a prescription, and he never hand-writes a prescription for oxycodone. Guntur said he was relieved a pharmacy technician alerted him to the scam so the forgery could stop. Guntur added Thomas had worked for him for about two years prior to the bust at Shop N Save and he said had, “Treated her like my own child.”
Police said up to that point, Thomas would be the one to verify the fake prescriptions whenever a pharmacy would call to confirm.
“When the pharmacy would call to check on the prescriptions, she would be the one to answer the phone and confirm that they were valid prescriptions,” Greensburg Police Capt. Chad Zucco said.
Police detained Thomas and Michelle Uhrin at the Shop N Save. Once at the police department for questioning, Investigators said Uhrin admitted to passing 70 prescriptions at the Walmarts in Connellsville, Mount Pleasant, Greengate and Uniontown, as well as Rite Aid in Scottdale, Giant Eagle in Hempfield Square, Scottdale Pharmacy, New Stanton Pharmacy, Med Mart in Connellsville, Med Fast in Greensburg, CVS on Route 819 and one other unknown location.
Police said their investigation led them to three other people, Charles Dean, Ashley Hixson, 25 of Scottdale, and Thomas Carrigan, 47 of Normalville. Hixson and Carrigan are also charged by police in the case after investigators said Hixson received three prescriptions and Carrigan received two. Police said Hixson filled her prescriptions at the Giant Eagle in Eastgate, Med Mart in Connellsville and Walmart in Mount Pleasant. and another unknown location while Carrigan filled his at the Walmart in Mount Pleasant.
Dean’s name was on 19 prescriptions filled at the Walmarts in Mount Pleasant, Greengate, Uniontown and Connellsville, Scottdale Pharmacy, Med Mart in Connellsville, Giant Eagle in Hempfield Square, CVS in Connellsville and one unknown location. However at this point in the investigation, police have not charged Dean because it is unclear if he actually filled the prescriptions himself or if only his name was used on the script. Police said Thomas admitted to forging prescriptions in Dean’s name because he “was special needs.”
Detectives compiled all of the forged prescriptions and determined around 8,000 oxycodone pills were dispensed from March 2013 through November 2013 in the Westmoreland and Fayette County areas. Police suspect a majority of those pills were sold on the street for $30 each.
“Obviously it’s putting them out on the street. The people who were involved with this obviously weren’t taking them all. They were selling them,” Zucco said.
Thomas admitted to police she forged the prescriptions because “it was her way of helping people.”
“She subsequently admitted to taking the prescription forms from a cabinet in Dr. Guntur’s office where she was employed,” police wrote in an affidavit of probable cause. “She continued that she had a master’s degree and wanted to open a community center in Mount Pleasant.”
“She advised that because she was employed by Dr. Guntur, when a pharmacy would call to check on the script, it would be Thomas who received the call and approved the prescription,” police wrote.
Investigators said they obtained a search warrant for Thomas’ former residence on Washington Street in Mount Pleasant where they uncovered two bags of marijuana, 205 oxycodone pills, Molly and SweeTarts suspected to be contaminated with LSD but later were tested and determined to be free of any drugs. Police also found multiple pipes, bongs and rolling papers.
Thomas, Carrigan, Hixson and Uhrin are awaiting arraignments and preliminary hearings before District Judge James Albert in Greensburg.