November 29, 2012 PHILADELPHIA—A third superseding indictment was unsealed today against Dr. Norman Werther, 73, of Horsham, adding nine new defendants and dozens more charges, most notably distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death, announced First Assistant United States Attorney Louis D. Lappen. It is the first such case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Werther was originally indicted on August 10, 2011, with 51 co-defendants. The charges allege a multi-million-dollar drug conspiracy involving illegal prescriptions, phony patients, and a drug trafficking organization.
At the time, Werther was a Montgomery County physician running a physical therapy and rehabilitation practice in Willow Grove. According to the third superseding indictment, Werther conspired with six separate groups of drug dealers. In addition to the count of causing a death, he is charged in multiple counts of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, distribution of controlled substances, maintaining a drug-involved premises, and money laundering. He faces a mandatory 20 years and maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of all charges.
New defendants charged in the third superseding indictment are: Troy Brinkley, 44; Edward Jackson, 49; Edward Dominick, Sr., 53; Frederick Kelsey, 51; Kyle Jones, 30; Ali Armstead, 31; Terrell Jackson, 27; Bernard Jackson, 33; and Ronald Campbell, 35, all of Philadelphia. Dominick, Sr. is still at-large; Ali Armstead will turn himself in; all others were arrested this morning.
The charges allege that Werther worked with six alleged drug traffickers who recruited large numbers of pseudo-patients. Werther set aside a specific block of time each business day to see the pseudo-patients recruited by Troy Brinkley, Ronald Campbell, Anthony DiPasquale, Angel DuPrey, Kyle Jones, and William Stukes (charged earlier). With the help of Werther’s office staff, those “patients” were transported to Werther’s medical office at 301 Davisville Road in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, for cursory examinations. The “patients” paid an office visit fee, usually $150, by cash, check, or money order, and Werther would write prescriptions for them to obtain oxycodone-based drugs without there being a legitimate medical purpose for the prescription and outside the usual course of professional practice. The “patients” were then driven to various pharmacies, including Northeast Pharmacy, to have their prescriptions filled. The drugs were then turned over to the alleged drug dealers so their organizations could sell the narcotics to numerous drug dealers, also charged, who would also then resell the drugs on the street.
According to the third superseding indictment, in September 2010, Werther knowingly dispensed approximately 150 pills containing 30 milligrams each of oxycodone and 30 pills containing 15 milligrams each of oxycodone to N. B., a person known to the grand jury, for no legitimate medical purpose, and N. B.’s death resulted from the use of that substance.
According to the third superseding indictment, Werther’s wife sent a memo to the office staff in July 2011: “When Angel [referring to defendant Angel Duprey] calls...Dr. has told us to tell him that a Consultant was in and reviewed our charts. He and Fernando [referring to defendant Ferdinand Nieves] were arrested...this created a big problem for us. It is a big ‘red flag’...we don’t want the government reviewing us. The DEA checks on physicians dispensing narcotics. Dr. could lose his license. He has sent away more than 100 people in the last few weeks. He cannot see their people under any circumstances. Be firm...no arguing.”
The alleged drug conspiracy involving Dr. Werther operated between February 2009 and August 2011 and resulted in the alleged illegal distribution of more than 700,000 pills containing oxycodone. At least one of the drug trafficking organizations allegedly working with Werther trafficked pills valued at more than $5 million that Werther is alleged to have illegally prescribed.
A total of 67 defendants have been charged in the case. Additional charges contained in the third superseding indictment include conspiracy (six counts), distribution of controlled substances causing death, maintaining a drug-involved premises, distribution of controlled substances (196 counts), possession with the intent to distribute (three counts), money laundering (117 counts), and health care fraud (44 counts).
Other defendants previously charged and awaiting trial are: Kim Carter, 44; Angel Duprey, 33; Ferdinand Nieves, 45; and Anthony DiPasquale, 46, all of Philadelphia.
All others have pleaded guilty.
The crimes of conspiracy, distribution of controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute, and money laundering each carry a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison; health care fraud and aggravated structuring each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; structuring financial transactions carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison. Each defendant also faces possible fines, periods of supervised release and special assessments.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; with assistance from the Philadelphia Police Department; the North Coventry Police Department; the Upper Moreland Police Department; and the Montgomery Township Police. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michelle Rotella and Nancy Beam Winter.