Doc, druggist among charged in painkiller ring

August 10, 2011 5:13:13 PM PDT
Authorities say a Philadelphia drug dealer steered a steady stream of fake patients through a doctor's office and pharmacist to get $5 million worth of highly addictive painkillers later sold on the street.

Dr. Norman Werther ran what appeared to be a family medical practice out of a Davisville Road office in Willow Grove, Montgomery County.

But the feds say it was home base for a massive illegal drug and insurance fraud operation.

"What is most alarming about this case is that two key players in the conspiracy are medically trained professionals who decided to use their licenses to aid a drug trafficking organization for profit," U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger said.

The feds say 71-year-old Werther wrote prescriptions for the powerful pain killer oxycodone for pseudo patients brought to him by a Philadelphia drug dealer.

They say his medical staff collected $150 from each of the patients.

The patients filled most of the prescriptions from Northeast Pharmacy on Bustleton Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia.

Investigators say the pills were then turned over to drug dealers who sold them on the streets.

The scheme allegedly netted $5-million from the sale of 200,000 pills.

The owner of the drug store, Ihsanullah "Sean" Maaf, is also charged with money laundering.

The government says he had numerous bank accounts and deposited thousands of dollars a day, upwards of $200,000 a month.

This morning the feds arrested 44 of the 53 defendants. They include pseudo patients and drivers who allegedly delivered them by the carload to Dr. Werther's office.

Three of the doctor's medical staff are also charged.

Zane Memeger says the highly trained professionals are no better than street thugs.

"Werther and Maaf are just like the street corner drug dealers they supply despite their professional status," Memeger said.

Most of the drug purchases were billed to Medicare and Medicaid courtesy of the taxpayers.

Werther of Horsham pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking, which carries a 20-year prison term.

Werther's lawyer, David Braverman, declined comment.

Maaf does not have a lawyer listed and it was not immediately clear if he entered a plea.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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