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Charges Filed Against Chicago-Area Man for Multi-Million-Dollar Theft of Prescription Pain Relieving Medications

CHICAGO, IL. – A joint investigation by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department resulted in the arrest of an employee of a Skokie, Illinois pharmacy for illegally selling millions of dollars worth of prescription controlled substances. The Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced the charges on September 9, 2011.

Earl Newsome, 57, of Calumet Park, was charged with Delivery of a Controlled Substance and Theft. Newsome appeared in court on September 9 th at the Cook County Courthouse in Skokie before Judge Marcia Orr, where his bail was set at $3 million. A preliminary hearing was set for October 3, 2011.

According to investigators, Newsome worked at Pharmore Drugs, a pharmacy in Skokie that supplied long-term healthcare facilities with prescription medications. Newsome’s responsibilities as an inventory clerk included placing orders with drug wholesale companies.

Investigators recently obtained information that various individuals were traveling to Pharmore Drugs to illegally purchase large quantities of Hydrocodone, a controlled substance prescribed for pain reduction and marketed in various forms under a number of different trademark names, including Vicodin and Norco.

According to prosecutors, Newsome acted in his capacity at the pharmacy to over-order large quantities of certain medications containing hydrocodone. When the shipments arrived at Pharmore Drugs, Newsome then allegedly diverted quantities of the hydrocodone to sell for his own profit. Newsome allegedly sold bulk quantities of the drug to various buyers who then distributed the hydrocodone for illicit street-level sales. Pharmore Drugs was then billed and made payment for the illegally diverted drugs.

Investigators believe that since January of 2011, Newsome illegally sold an estimated 700,000 pills containing hydrocodone, with an estimated street value ranging up to $7 million.

“Prescription drug abuse continues to plague communities throughout the United States, and the Chicago-land area is no different. The DEA has recently stressed the importance of guarding prescription drugs from being diverted in the home to those they were not prescribed for,” stated Jack Riley, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the DEA. “In this investigation, DEA agents and Diversion Investigators partnered with Cook County Sheriff’s Investigators to plug a gaping hole of powerful prescription pain medication from allegedly being diverted for illegal mass distribution.”

State’s Attorney Alvarez thanked the agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Sheriff’s Police and Assistant State’s Attorneys from the Narcotics Bureau for their joint work on the case.

“The sale of illegal prescription drugs is a serious consumer concern and is a crime that we will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute,” Alvarez said. “We thank our investigative partners for their fine work on this case and their coordinated efforts.”

Parents and children are encouraged to educate themselves about the dangers of drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.JustThinkTwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.

Charging document contain allegations that are not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial at which the state has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


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