Twelve Las Vegans Charged with Passing Forged Prescriptions at Local Pharmacies to Obtain Controlled Substances
Las Vegas, Nev. – Federal drug charges have been filed against 12 Las Vegas residents for passing forged and fraudulent prescriptions at local pharmacies to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of prescription painkiller medications, such as Oxycodone and Percocet, announced Greg Brower, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
"The unlawful acquisition and distribution of prescription medications is a very serious crime," said U.S. Attorney Brower. "Those who engage in such conduct risk federal prosecution and lengthy prison sentences."
Indicted on Wednesday, April 22, 2009, by the Federal Grand Jury are Chloe Telles-Gaches, 23, Daniel Lugo, 22, and Ray Lugo, Jr., 23. They are charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Oxycodone, Percocet, and Lortab (three counts), Distribution of Oxycodone, Percocet, and Lortab (three counts), and Conspiracy to Acquire Oxycodone, Percocet, and Lortab by Fraud (three counts). Telles-Gaches is also charged with Money Laundering Conspiracy. All three were arrested on April 1, 2009, in Las Vegas and released on personal recognizance bonds, with the exception of Telles-Gaches who was released to a halfway house. They are scheduled to be arraigned on the charges on Friday, May 8, 2009, at 8:30 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert J. Johnston.
Also charged by criminal complaint are Angelina Maria Lugo, 23, Sidney James Franklin, 29, Keith Arlando Burwell, 31, Zachary Michael Knighton, 23, Jessica A. Tritt, 25, Breanna M. White, 20, Natasha Georgina Edwards, 22, and Ricky Ray Roche, 24, and one other individual who has not yet been arrested. They are each charged with Acquisition of a Controlled Substance by Forgery.
Between about February 2008 and February 2009, the defendants allegedly passed more than 100 forged prescriptions at over 30 different pharmacies throughout Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and Henderson, and obtained over 19,000 pills, including 17,280 pills of Oxycodone, 1,000 pills of Percocet, 920 pills of Lortab, and 180 pills of Roxicodone. Through the use of advanced computer technology, the defendants were able to fraudulently imitate prescriptions including legitimate security features and sensitive doctor information. The defendants used the information of at least six doctors and one physician assistant to create the fake prescriptions. All of the medications, which are normally prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain, are classified under federal law as either Schedule II or Schedule III controlled substances. The pills obtained by the defendants had an estimated street value of about $708,000.
If convicted, defendants Telles-Gaches, Daniel Lugo, and Ray Lugo, Jr. face up to 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine on each count, and the remaining nine defendants face up to four years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The DEA and IRS Criminal Investigation are investigating the case, with assistance from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Henderson Police Department, and North Las Vegas Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kishan Nair and Crane Pomerantz.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.