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Press Release

Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Opioid Working Group’s Successes Fighting Opioid Crisis

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado
Two pharmacists plead guilty, another pharmacist and physician face charges, and a pharmacy company agrees to pay 1.85 million in unrelated matters

DENVER – U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer today announces recent successes of the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Opioid Initiative Working Group.  The initiative is bringing both criminal and civil actions against wrongful prescribers and dispensers of opioids.  It is comprised of expert civil and criminal staff in the U.S. Attorney’s Office who use sophisticated data analytics to identify doctors and pharmacies unlawfully dispensing opioids.  Today’s announcement comes in advance of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Takeback Day, on October 27, 2018, at locations throughout Colorado and across the country.

“Reducing opioid deaths is a genuine battle,” announced U.S Attorney Bob Troyer.  “Too many in our country battle daily with addiction, and our hearts and our work are for them.  Then there are others in our society who prey on the addicted.  We are taking this fight to them.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office will use all of its resources – both criminal and civil – to identify and stop unlawful prescribers and dispensers of opioids.  We fight this battle one prosecution at a time, with all our strength.” 

Criminal Prosecutions

U.S. Attorney Troyer announces three separate criminal prosecutions.

  • A Colorado doctor, Andrew M. Ho, practicing internal medicine in Denver, Colorado, has been charged with distributing or dispensing controlled substances illegally between September of 2014 and November of 2015.  According to the twenty-one count indictment, Dr. Ho illegally prescribed a number of controlled substances, including the opioid Oxycodone, to several patients during the period of the indictment.  The prescriptions were given “outside the usual course of professional practice and for a purpose other than a legitimate medical purpose.”  If convicted, Dr. Ho faces a potential sentence of up to twenty years, and a fine of up to one million dollars.
  • A registered pharmacist, Mary Aronson, owner and operator of St. Vrain Pharmacy in Lyons, Colorado, has been charged with illegal distribution of narcotics in a Federal Indictment which was unsealed on October 17, 2018.  According to the indictment, Aronson is charged with illegally distributing oxycodone, amphetamine, and lorazepam between December of 2017, and February of 2018.  If convicted, Aronson faces a potential sentence of up to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to one million dollars.
  • The U.S. Attorney’s Office also recently announced guilty pleas of two South Denver pharmacists.  Both defendants, Stanley Callas and Scott Eskanos, were co-owners of Crown Point Pharmacy, located in Parker, Colorado, and Sky Ridge Pharmacy, located in Lone Tree, Colorado. Callas typically dispensed controlled substances from Crown Point Pharmacy and Eskanos typically dispensed controlled substances from Sky Ridge Pharmacy.  Both dispensed morphine, meperidine, and lorazepam to co-defendant Dianna Smithling outside the usual course of professional practice.


Civil Settlement

U.S. Attorney Troyer also joins colleagues from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Western District of Pennsylvania in announcing that Passavant Memorial Homes, and its subsidiaries Passavant Development Corporation, PDC Pharmacy Colorado, PDC Pharmacy Philadelphia, and PDC Pharmacy Pittsburgh, have agreed to pay the United States $1,850,000 to resolve allegations that Passavant dispensed controlled substances to patients without a valid prescription, in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, and, in some cases, submitted claims for the drugs to Medicare and Medicaid, in violation of the False Claims Act. Passavant has implemented a policy change to stop this practice.

Passavant’s pharmacies serve individuals with intellectual disabilities and other mental health needs through community residential programs, residential treatment facilities, intermediate care facilities, and other facilities. In many cases, Passavant bills federal healthcare programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, for dispensing controlled substances to these individuals.

In 2015, an investigation was launched after Passavant voluntarily disclosed to the United States that between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2014, Passavant had dispensed controlled substances on Schedules III, IV, and V of the DEA Controlled Substances List to patients for a legitimate medical purpose, but without a valid prescription and with only a physician order.  In many cases, Passavant submitted claims to Medicare and Medicaid for dispensing these drugs without a prescription.  Passavant voluntarily disclosed this information and cooperated with the investigation to identify the nature and scope of the issue.

The civil case was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Amanda Rocque of the District of Colorado, Mark J. Sherer and Anthony D. Scicchitano of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Colin J. Callahan of the Western District of Pennsylvania. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


DEA National Takeback Day

The next DEA National Takeback Day is on October 27, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at locations throughout Colorado and across the country.  Visit


Jeff Dorschner
Spokesman, Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado
303-454-0243 direct; 303-454-0400 fax

Updated October 25, 2018

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