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Cops: Office manager for Greensburg doctor and four others charged in Suboxone-acquisition scheme | TribLIVE.com
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Cops: Office manager for Greensburg doctor and four others charged in Suboxone-acquisition scheme

Paul Peirce
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Suboxone, which reduces the withdrawal symptoms experienced by thos battling addiction to heroin and other opiates, comes in tablet form and as a thin film strip that dissolves under the tongue. It is not addictive, and patients can’t overdose on it.

A former office manager for Dr. Nabil Jabbour, a Greensburg physician who was indicted last fall by a federal jury for illegal distribution of Suboxone and money laundering, was among five people arrested Wednesday by state police on charges of being conspirators in an alleged drug acquisition operation.

Jabbour’s office manager, Sabrina D. Thomas, 27, of Fairbank, Fayette County, and four Westmoreland County residents who allegedly permitted their identities to be used by Thomas in the alleged scheme, were arraigned before Hempfield District Judge Mark Mansour on charges of illegal acquisition of a controlled substance, being part of corrupt organizations, forgery and identity theft. All were released on $10,000 unsecured bond.

The residents charged with being part of the drug-acquisition conspiracy area Rhonda D. Anthony, 42, Jacqueline R. Keys, 33, and Adam L. Fincik, 35, all of West Newton; and Rebecca R. Carwithen, 24, of Monessen.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Trooper Christopher Cole of Greensburg, Thomas and an accomplice, who was a patient of Jabbour who is not yet charged, would allegedly use Jabbour’s personal identifying information and DEA number to call in fraudulent Suboxone prescriptions using the residents’ personal information even though they were never patients of Jabbour.

Anthony, Carwithen, Fincik and Keys are accused of going to the various pharmacies in the region to obtain the prescriptions for Suboxone, Cole alleges. Suboxone is used to treat opioid addictions through medication-assisted treatment, which should also be combined with counseling and other therapy.

Coles reported in court documents that he was able to document the drug-acquisition scheme occurred on multiple occasions from June 2015 through February 2016.

“(Dr. Jabbour) indicated that the prescriptions were not authorized by him and not issued pursuant to his employment as a medical doctor. He did not authorize the use of his name, identifying information or DEA number for these purposes,” Cole said in the affidavit.

During an interview, Anthony told investigators that the scheme was a way “to make some extra money.”

“Anthony would immediately sell the pills for money or she would give them to her daughter, Carwithen, who was a recovering heroin addict,” Cole wrote.

The participants reported to Cole that sometimes they would split the money with Thomas or keep the pills for themselves.

Cole reported the pharmacies where the fraudulent prescriptions were passed included Walmart pharmacies in Greensburg, North Huntingdon, Rostraver and Uniontown; the Medicine Shoppe in Grensburg, and New Stanton Pharmacy.

In September, Jabbour was indicted in a 25-count indictment by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of distribution of Suboxone outside the usual course of professional practice, using and maintaining a drug-involved premises, health care fraud, and money laundering. His trial is tentatively slated June 3 before Judge Arthur Schwab, according to on-line dockets.

The grand jury alleged Jabbour, who practiced on Harvey Avenue in Greensburg and Connellsville, between July 27, 2016, and December 13, 2016, distributed Suboxone on 17 occasions, outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.

Jabbour is also charged with defrauding Medicare and Medicaid through his illegal dispensing practices, which resulted in the health care programs covering costs associated with fraudulent Suboxone prescriptions. Finally, the indictment charges Jabbour with money laundering based on cash transactions in excess of $10,000 that he initiated at the Meadows Casino in Washington County on five occasions between July 26, 2015, and July 25, 2016.

Jabbour faces a potential maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $500,000 for each distribution count; a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $500,000 for each drug-involved premises charge; a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for the health care fraud charge, and a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for each money laundering charge if convicted.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.