Healthcare Facility Rx Drug Diversion – Rx Fraud & Drug Trafficking
Three men were sentenced this week in Akron federal court by Chief Judge Sara Lioi for their roles in a case involving forged prescriptions and a conspiracy to press and sell illicit pills.
Michael White, age 43, of Akron, was sentenced to 66 months in prison followed by ten years of supervised release after pleading guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances, and two counts of Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine.
Durell Richerson, age 35, of Akron, was sentenced to 36 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, after pleading guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and nine counts of Aggravated Identity Theft.
Dallas Delatte, age 34, of Canton, was sentenced to 25 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, after pleading guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and three counts of Aggravated Identity Theft.
A fourth defendant, Amanda Ball, previously pled guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances, and is scheduled for sentencing on September 12, 2023.
The following information is based on the indictment and the defendants’ guilty pleas.
This indictment charged two separate but related conspiracies. The first conspiracy, which Durell Richerson and Dallas Delatte pled guilty to participating in, involved passing forged prescriptions for promethazine-codeine cough syrup at Akron-area pharmacies. According to the indictment, promethazine-codeine cough syrup can be used as an illicit recreational drug, and is known by street names such as “purple drink,” “drank,” and “lean.” Members of this conspiracy used a Google account to store forged prescription templates bearing the names, DEA numbers, and NPI numbers of Akron-area physicians, without the physicians’ permission or knowledge. Conspirators made small edits to the forged prescription templates saved on the Google account, printed the forged prescriptions out on security paper, and then attempted to pass the forged prescriptions at Akron-area pharmacies. Because those forged prescriptions each contained the name, DEA number, and/or NPI number of a real physician—which was done without the permission or knowledge of the physician—each use of a forged prescription constituted a count of Aggravated Identity Theft, with the victim being the physician whose identity was used without their permission.
The second conspiracy, which Michael White and Amanda Ball pled guilty to participating in, involved using a pill press machine to manufacture and distribute illicit pills, including methamphetamine pills that looked like ecstasy (MDMA). White and other conspirators also possessed a pill press machine used to manufacture illicit pills at a residence in Akron to distribute the pills they manufactured. On December 1, 2020, law enforcement executed search warrants at residences in Canton and Akron. Those searches resulted in the seizure of approximately 89 tablets containing methamphetamine, two digital scales, and a blender with cocaine residue.
The case was investigated by the DEA Cleveland’s Tactical Diversion Squad, with assistance from the Akron Police Department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Canton Police Department, and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Lewis.
Thomas P. Weldon