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Press Release

Pharmacist Sentenced To Three Years In Prison For Misbranding And Fraud Offenses Arising From Internet Pharmacy Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that LENA LASHER, a licensed pharmacist, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court today to three years in prison for misbranding and fraud offenses arising from an Internet pharmacy scheme.  LASHER was convicted on May 15, 2015, after a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Lena Lasher abused her position as a licensed pharmacist by dispensing prescription drugs to customers without valid prescriptions and customers who had never consulted with a physician. Prescription drugs, especially the pain medications that Lasher dispensed, can be addictive and dangerous, and this Office is committed to prosecuting those who illegally dispense prescription drugs.”

According to the Indictment, and Superseding Indictment, public filings, and evidence presented at trial:

From 2008 through late November 2012, LASHER, along with others, engaged in a scheme to dispense prescription drugs, including addictive pain medications, to customers who ordered them online, without meeting or consulting with a physician.  Over the course of the scheme, LASHER, a licensed pharmacist who was the Pharmacist-In-Charge at Hellertown Pharmacy in Hellertown, Pennsylvania, and who supervised a second pharmacy, Palmer Pharmacy & Much More in Easton, Pennsylvania, dispensed and caused others to dispense hundreds of thousands of pain pills without valid prescriptions.

LASHER also directed employees at the two pharmacies she supervised to ship pills in vials with false or misleading labels.  At LASHER’s direction, instructions on the labels for how often a customer should take certain drugs were often altered, and the descriptions on the labels regarding the quantity of pills in the pill vial were often inaccurate.  She also directed employees to take pills that had been returned by customers or delivery services, remove the labels, and then to re-dispense the pills to other customers with new labels, without informing those new customers that they were receiving pills that had previously been dispensed to others.  LASHER also instructed her employees to store pills without required information, such as a lot number or expiration date.

As part of her effort to conceal the nature of the Internet pharmacy business at both pharmacies, LASHER made false representations to multiple state boards of pharmacy and to an investigator with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  LASHER also instructed her employees to use code when talking about the Internet pharmacy scheme, telling them to refer to prescription drugs dispensed pursuant to prescriptions obtained over the Internet as “nursing home meds” and not to use the word “Internet” in describing the pharmacies’ business.

LASHER, 47, of High Bridge, New Jersey, was convicted after trial of one count of conspiracy to introduce misbranding prescription drugs into interstate commerce and to misbrand prescription drugs while held for sale, with intent to defraud or mislead; one count of introducing misbranding prescription drugs into interstate commerce, with intent to defraud or mislead; one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud; one count of mail fraud; and one count of wire fraud.  In addition to the prison term, LASHER was also sentenced to two years supervised release, and was ordered to pay $2.5 million in forfeiture.

United States Attorney Bharara praised the work of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, and the United States Postal Inspection Service, and expressed his appreciation for the assistance of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of State, and the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety, Division of Law, Professional Boards Prosecution Section.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel C. Richenthal and Kristy J. Greenberg are in charge of the prosecution.


Updated September 3, 2015

Press Release Number: 15-229