Ex-doctor charged in prescription forgery ring

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State prosecutors have announced charges against a former doctor with the Penn State Hershey Medical Group and ten others who allegedly were involved in a prescription forgery ring.

Dr. Claude Fanelli, 56, formerly a cardiologist with the Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute in Camp Hill, is accused of signing blank prescriptions for pain medications at $1,000 each, according to Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

Kane said an investigating grand jury found that Fanelli sold the fraudulent prescriptions to Donna Essis-Danfora, who gave Fanelli the names she put on the scripts so that he would be able to verify the prescriptions with pharmacies, even though he had never seen or treated those people.

The state attorney general's office said that between February 2012 and April 2012, Fanelli signed approximately 26 fraudulent prescriptions for approximately 4,400 Oxycodone pills with an estimated street value of $111,000.

Essis-Danfora, 49, of York, recruited at least eight others, including her son, to pass the prescriptions at pharmacies in Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster and York counties and sold the pills for between $20 and $30 per tablet, Kane said.

The grand jury also found that Essis-Danfora also had runners pass fraudulent scripts that had been created on a computer using doctors' names without their knowledge, and engaged in a practice known as “doctor shopping,” or visiting different doctors in order to receive prescriptions for pain medication, Kane said.

Two other defendants in the case, Gregg Williams and Travis Thorpe, not only acted as runners for Essis-Danfora, but also purchased pills and resold them on the campus of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Kane said.

Penn State Hershey Medical Center said in a statement that Fanelli was removed from clinical practice in March 2012 after an internal investigation spurred by inquiries from several pharmacies identified several questionable prescriptions.

The medical center said the concerns were reported to law enforcement, and Fanelli's employment officially ended in September 2012.

The state attorney general's office identified the defendants in the case and the charges against them as follows:

 

- Claude Fanelli, 56, of Harrisburg, was charged with one count of administering, dispensing, delivering or prescribing a controlled substance not in accordance with treatment principles accepted by the medical profession, one count of delivery of Oxycodone, one count of criminal conspiracy to deliver Oxycodone, and one count of criminal conspiracy to possess Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.

- Donna Essis-Danfora, 49, of York, was charged with three counts of delivery of Oxycodone, one count of criminal attempt to possess Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge, one count of possession of Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge, one count of criminal conspiracy to possess Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge, one count of criminal conspiracy to deliver Oxycodone, one count of corrupt organizations, and one count of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity.

- April Williams, 43, of York, was charged with one count of criminal attempt to possess Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge, one count of criminal conspiracy to possess Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.

- Gregg Williams, 23, of Benton, Kentucky, was charged with three counts of possession of Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge, two counts of criminal attempt to possess Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge, and one count of criminal conspiracy to possess Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.

- Travis Thorpe, 22, 800 Birch St., Benton, Kentucky, was charged with one count of possession of Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge and one count of criminal conspiracy to possess Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.

- Eric Sargen, 44, of Elizabethtown, was charged with one count of possession of Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.

- David Stewart, 58, of York, was charged with three counts of possession of Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge and one count of criminal conspiracy to possess Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.

- Joseph Parker, 22, of York, was charged with one count of possession of Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge and one count of criminal conspiracy to possess Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.

- Wadie Danfora, 23, of York, was charged with two counts of possession of Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge, one count of delivery of Oxycodone, one count of criminal conspiracy to possess Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge, and one count of criminal conspiracy to deliver Oxycodone.

- Amanda Tsykalyuk, 29, of York Haven, was charged with one count of possession of Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge and one count of criminal conspiracy to possess Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.

- Wilfredo Sanchez Jr., 27, of York, was charged with one count of possession of Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge, one count of delivery of Oxycodone, one count of criminal conspiracy to deliver Oxycodone, and one count of criminal conspiracy to possess Oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.

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