News and Press Releases

Multiple Defendants Charged in Allegheny County-Beaver County Prescription Drug Ring

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 22, 2013

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Twelve western Pennsylvania residents have been indicted by a federal grand jury alleging their participation in a prescription drug ring operating in Allegheny and Beaver Counties, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today. The indictments were returned on July 16, 2013, and unsealed this week.

“These indictments charge participants at all levels of a western Pennsylvania oxycodone and Opana distribution ring - from the leader, to the prescription thief, to the pharmacy burglars, to the runners who presented the fake prescriptions to be filled,” said U.S. Attorney Hickton. “Dismantling these operations continues to be a priority of this office as we endeavor to address the prescription drug abuse epidemic. As this case illustrates, abuse of prescription pills can result in grave harm and death.”

“Prescription drug abuse encompasses far more than the act of selling drugs; it often involves property crimes and crimes of violence. It is a serious threat to our communities and children. In 2011 for example, there were 2.3 million persons age 12 and older who used prescription drugs for the first time for non-medical reasons,” said Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge David G. Dongilli. “DEA is committed to confronting this threat to public health and will continue to target those who would profit from the illegal sales of prescription drugs without regard to the damage it causes to people and communities. DEA wishes to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their support in this prosecution.”

A 12-count indictment charging violations of federal narcotics, firearms and burglary laws named:

  • David Best, 27, of Coraopolis, Pa.;
  • Matthew Moody, 24, of Baden, Pa.;
  • Jade Gagianas, 28, of Freedom, Pa.;
  • Katie Adams, 27, of Ambridge, Pa.;
  • Andrew Brown, 23, of Eighty Four, Pa.;
  • Ryan Raithel, 33, of Wexford, Pa.; and,
  • Carlos Martinez, 26, of Ambridge, Pa.

Count 1 charges Best, Moody, Gagianas, Adams, Brown, and Raithel with conspiring together and with others, from around December 2011 until May 2013, to distribute and possess with intent to distribute the Schedule II controlled substances oxycodone and oxymorphone, in the form known as Opana.

Counts 2 through 4 charge Best with distributing oxycodone and oxymorphone, in the form known as Opana, on May 8, 2012, April 18, 2013, and April 30, 2013. Count 4 alleges that when Best distributed both oxycodone and Opana on May 8, 2012, a person known to the grand jury died as a result of his use of the drugs.

Count 5 charges that Best, on or about June 20, 2012, used, carried, and brandished a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime (the conspiracy).

Counts 6 through 11 reflect charges that on three occasions, Dec. 1, 2011, Sept. 26-27, 2012, and Feb. 15, 2013, Best burglarized the MedFast pharmacy in Baden, Pa., and from that pharmacy stole a number of Schedule II controlled substances, including: fentanyl, oxymorphone, including in the form known as Opana, Ritalin, oxycodone, including in the form known as Oxycontin, methylphenidate, Vyvanse, morphine sulfate, Roxicet, Focalin, methylphenidate, hydromorphone, methadone, and meperidine. Adams and Martinez are also charged with the Sept. 26-27, 2012, burglary of that pharmacy.

Finally, Count 12 charges Raithel with distributing a quantity of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance, on or about Aug. 10, 2012.

On the drug conspiracy charge, the possession with the intent to distribute and distribution charges, and pharmacy burglary charges, the law provides for a maximum total sentence as to each count of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000,000 ($250,000 for the pharmacy burglaries), or both. When death results from the use of illegally distributed Schedule I or II drugs, the penalty increases to a mandatory minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life imprisonment. Finally, for the firearms charge, there is a mandatory minimum of seven years, a maximum of life imprisonment, and a fine of up to $250,000. Any penalty imposed on the firearms charge must run consecutively to any other penalty. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.

In a separate but related indictment, two residents of Western Pennsylvania have been indicted on a charge of witness intimidation. The one-count indictment named:

  • Natalie Moskorisin, 23, of Ambridge, Pa.; and
  • Wesley Weaver, 23, of Coraopolis, Pa.

According to the indictment, on or about June 6, 2013, in the Western District of Pennsylvania, Moskorisin and Weaver knowingly intimidated and attempted to intimidate witnesses in a federal proceeding, that being the federal investigation and prosecution of David Best.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.

Three additional Pittsburgh-area residents were indicted separately on charges of violating federal narcotic laws.

A one-count indictment charges that on Sept. 19, 2012, Janna Gahagan, 29, of Pittsburgh, Pa., conspired with others to obtain oxycodone by fraud, in that she passed a fraudulent oxycodone prescription at a pharmacy, thereby obtaining oxycodone pursuant to that fraudulent prescription.

Another one-count indictment charges that from March 23, 2012, and continuing until July 17, 2012, Breanne McKee, 29, of Saxonburg, Pa., conspired with others to obtain oxycodone and oxymorphone, in the form known as Opana, by fraud, in that she passed fraudulent prescriptions at area pharmacies, thereby obtaining oxycodone and oxymorphone pursuant to those fraudulent prescriptions.

Finally, a one-count indictment charges that on or about April 26, 2013, Christopher Nugent, 34, of Pittsburgh, Pa., conspired with others to obtain oxycodone by fraud, in that he passed a fraudulent oxycodone prescription at a pharmacy, thereby obtaining oxycodone pursuant to that fraudulent prescription.

For Gahagan, McKee and Nugent, the law provides for a maximum total sentence of not more than four years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Eric S. Rosen is prosecuting these cases on behalf of the government.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Economy Borough and Cranberry Township Police Departments conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in these cases.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Return to Top

USAO Homepage
USAO Briefing Room
Justice 101
What Makes Schools Safer? Using science to discover what works. Federal funding available. Visit NIJ.gov, keywords: 'comprehensive school safety intiative'
Text PGHOD to Tip411 (847411)
Strategy

Law enforcement agencies and community partners help us reduce crime.

Victim Witness Assistance

Making sure that victims of federal crimes are treated with compassion, fairness and respect.

Stop Fraud

Protect yourself from fraud, and report suspected cases of financial fraud to local law enforcement.

Project Safe Childhood

Help us combat the proliferation of sexual exploitation crimes against children.