PA: South Hills pharmacist admits to fraud in obtaining painkillers, other crimes

A South Hills pharmacist pleaded guilty Friday to fraud charges in connection with illegally obtaining painkillers, selling misbranded drugs and ripping off Medicare for more than a half-million dollars.

Timothy Forester, 46, who owned four pharmacies in South Park, Peters, Eighty-Four and West Mifflin, admitted that in 2018 and 2019 he knowingly obtained oxycodone and hydrocodone through deception.

According to an indictment handed up in 2019, Forester used his Controlled Substance Ordering System certificate to obtain the drugs through a DEA-registered distributor for delivery to his pharmacies, but then didn’t enter the drugs he received into the pharmacy inventory or keep inventory records of what he’d received.

Instead, he took the drugs to his house in Peters, where he divided the shipments into smaller units and put them in plastic bags. He did not have a prescription for the drugs.

“Pharmacists such as Forester have an obligation to properly dispense and safeguard controlled substances such as oxycodone and hydrocodone,” said Thomas Hodnett, acting agent in charge of DEA in Philadelphia, which covers the Pittsburgh region. “Forester used his position of trust and access to obtain these powerful painkillers for his own use through fraud and deception.”

In addition, Forester admitted that he relabeled generic drugs as name-brand medicines and then sold them as if they were the name-brands. He billed Medicare and Medicaid for the more expensive brand-name drugs, costing the government about $680,000.

Forester was initially indicted under seal in June 2019 after investigators raided his South Park pharmacy. A federal grand jury added new charges of healthcare fraud conspiracy in December 2019 in a superseding indictment.

As part of the case, the government has seized Forester’s house on Windsor Court, valued at nearly $1 million, along with his Lincoln Navigator and $164,000 in cash.

U.S. District Judge David Cercone set sentencing for February.

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