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June 04, 2014
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Number: (313) 234-4310

Ohio Pharmacy Owner Charged with Distribution of Controlled Substances and Money Laundering Violations
53 count indictment lays out scheme to illegally distribute controlled substances and to conceal the illegal proceeds

JUN 04 (CLEVELAND) - A Federal grand jury returned a 53-count criminal indictment on June 3, 2014, which charged pharmacist Osama Salouha, 41, his wife Samah Salouha, 36, both of Strongsville, Ohio, and pharmacist Sbeih Sbeih, 45, of North Olmsted, Ohio, with a host of criminal charges.  The announcement, issued by Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, stated that Osama Salouha was charged with using his pharmacies, Southside Pharmacy in Lorain, Ohio, and Medicine Center Pharmacy in Elyria, Ohio, to sell opiate painkillers illicitly.

Osama Salouha, a pharmacist, was charged with 16 counts related to the distribution of controlled substances, as well as two money laundering counts, six tax counts, 12 structuring counts, and two counts of making false statements to law enforcement.  Samah Salouha was charged with one count each of structuring and making false statements.  Sbeih Sbeih, a pharmacist, was charged with one money laundering count and four tax counts. 

“The opioid and heroin epidemic in this state is fueled by drug dealers out to make money,” Dettelbach said. “Whether the evidence leads to a cartel, a stash house or behind a pharmacy counter, we will follow it, and we will hold these profiteers accountable.”

The indictment alleges that Osama Salouha used his pharmacist’s license to illegally distribute Schedule II controlled substances like oxycodone and oxymorphone to customers at Southside Pharmacy in Lorain, Ohio, and Medicine Center Pharmacy in Elyria, Ohio.  Mr. Salouha also made false statements to law enforcement about his prescription drug distribution.

The indictment further alleges that Osama Salouha, and his co-owner of Southside Pharmacy, Sbeih Sbeih, engaged in a conspiracy to launder money to conceal the proceeds to avoid transaction reporting requirements.  It is further alleged that Osama Salouha committed international money laundering through wire transfers to bank accounts overseas. 

Osama and Samah Salouha engaged in structuring cash deposits to bank accounts to avoid the generation of currency transaction reports, and Mrs. Salouha made false statements to law enforcement about her efforts to structure the deposit of cash.
If convicted, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after reviewing factors unique to this case.

The charges were investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ohio Board of Pharmacy, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations, the Akron Police Department, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County Drug Task Force, Summit County Sheriff’s Office, Lorain County Drug Task Force, Strongsville Police Department, MEDWAY Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Cleveland Heights Police Department.  The case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Collyer and Linda Barr.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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