MOON TOWNSHIP - Attorney General Tom Corbett today announced that agents of the Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation (BNI) were in the process of arresting up to eight suspects as part of a large-scale illegal OxyContin distribution ring operating in Allegheny and Beaver counties.  The investigation found that a Lawrence County doctor allegedly wrote more than 320 fraudulent prescriptions for more than 21,150 pills.

Corbett said the nine-month grand jury investigation centered on Dr. Alan Egleston of New Wilmington, Lawrence County, who was an emergency room physician at the Aliquippa Community Hospital.  He said Dr. Egleston allegedly wrote hundreds of fraudulent OxyContin prescriptions and charged between $1,000 and $2,000 for each prescription.

Corbett said the grand jury found that Dr. Egleston allegedly sold a majority of the fraudulent OxyContin prescriptions to Kevin O'Brien, an Allegheny County Jail guard, who established a network of OxyContin abusers.

Corbett said the investigation began in March of 2005 when a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent contacted a BNI agent about information that Dr. Egleston was writing prescriptions for drugs without treating patients.

Corbett said BNI agents interviewed nurses at the Aliquippa Community Hospital emergency room who said they were concerned that individuals came to the emergency room asking for Dr. Egleston saying they were in need of treatment.  The nurses said that if Dr. Egleston was not on duty, the individuals would leave and not ask to be seen by the on duty doctor.  The nurses also told the agents that Dr. Egleston would meet patients in the waiting area of the emergency room, take them to the doctor's private quarters, issue them a prescription, and never had the nurses prep the patients in the normal manner.

Corbett said as part of the investigation, BNI agents entered Dr. Egleston's name into the Attorney General's Schedule II Controlled Substance database.  The database consists of all Schedule II or narcotic prescriptions written by doctors and filled by pharmacies. 

The database search showed that Dr. Egleston had written as many as 40 prescriptions in less than a year for a number of individuals.  Corbett said that it is highly unusual for a person to be at an emergency room 40 times in less than one-year and to be treated by the same doctor. 

The database also showed that the vast majority of the prescriptions that Dr. Egleston wrote were for popular drugs abused by drug addicts, mainly OxyContin and Oxycodone, which are Schedule II narcotics.

Corbett said the database also showed that a majority of the prescriptions written by Dr. Egleston were being filled at pharmacies in the Bellview/Westview area of Allegheny County.  He said it was also very unusual for patients, who received the prescriptions from Dr. Egleston at Aliquippa Hospital, to travel more than an hour from the emergency room to fill the prescriptions.

Corbett said the database also showed that one individual, Kevin O'Brien, received numerous prescriptions from Dr. Egleston but had them filled at numerous pharmacies around Allegheny County, which is a tactic that is typically used to avoid detection and identification by the same pharmacist.

Corbett said that some of the prescriptions that Dr. Egleston wrote had his home address and cell phone number printed on them.  He said as part of the investigation, agents conducted surveillance outside of Dr. Egleston's residence over several days and found no evidence that he was treating patients in his home.

Corbett said the grand jury found that O'Brien would find people who were addicted to narcotic pain killers, such as OxyContin, and give Dr. Egleston their name to write on the prescription.  The grand jury found no evidence that Dr. Egleston ever treated them.

The grand jury found that O'Brien would pay Dr. Egleston $1,000 for a prescription of 40 milligrams of OxyConitn and $2,000 for an 80 milligram prescription.  After obtaining a fraudulent prescription in another person's name from Dr. Egleston, O'Brien took the prescription back to the person and went with them to fill the prescription at a pharmacy and had them pay for the prescription with their insurance or Access cards. If their insurance was not accepted, O'Brien gave them cash to fill the prescription.

Corbett said the grand jury found that after the prescription was filled, the individuals returned the drugs to O'Brien who gave them a few pills and kept the rest.  O'Brien gave them the pill bottle in case they were stopped by the police.

Corbett said information obtained during the investigation demonstrates that O'Brien allegedly sold and distributed the remaining pills.  A single 80 milligram OxyContin pill has an estimated street value of $75.

As part of the investigation, Corbett said, his agents interviewed the individuals for whom Dr. Egleston wrote prescriptions.  One of the individuals, Pasquale Capizzi of Allison Park, Allegheny County, is the former Deputy Chief in the Allegheny County Treasure's Office.  Agents subpoenaed O'Brien's and Capizzi's cell phone records and found that they were in contact with each other approximately 1,480 times between September 2004 and December 2004.

Corbett said other individuals who participated with O'Brien in the illegal distribution of OxyContin, and who are being charged, are John Good, of Pittsburgh, who is currently a guard at the Allegheny County Jail; Thomas Welsh, who was employed in the Allegheny County Treasurer's Office, his wife, Rene Welsh; Leslie Ann Trueman of Pittsburgh and Tim Huck of Pittsburgh. 

Corbett noted that Capizzi and Welsh held their public positions when they allegedly committed their crimes.

Corbett said that the investigation is continuing and more arrests are expected. 

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