Delaware County Pharmacy and Owner-Pharmacist Agree to Pay $750k and Never Again Dispense Controlled Substances to Resolve Civil Allegations of Sex-for-Pills Scheme
United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that the United States filed a civil lawsuit against Murray-Overhill Pharmacy, Inc., located in Media, PA, and its co-owner pharmacist Martin Brian, alleging a years-long practice of illegal dispensing and distribution of opioid and other controlled substances as part of a sex-for-pills scheme. At the same time the civil suit was filed, the United States also filed a proposed consent judgment that, subject to the court’s approval, would resolve the lawsuit.
The consent judgment would require Murray-Overhill Pharmacy and Brian to pay $750,000 in civil penalties under the Controlled Substances Act and would permanently prohibit them from dispensing controlled substances or obtaining another controlled substance registration in the future.
In the civil complaint, the United States alleged that Murray-Overhill Pharmacy, Inc., through its pharmacist and co-owner Martin Brian, exploited its access to controlled substances and engaged in a scheme of pills-for-sex with multiple individuals. The United States alleged that police arrived at the rear of the pharmacy due to a report of an unconscious male and female in a car, which contained drug paraphernalia.
The complaint alleges that another woman exited the back of the pharmacy followed by Brian, with the woman and Brian initially claiming she came to the pharmacy from Maryland—on a Sunday when the pharmacy was closed—to show pictures of her children. According to the United States’ allegations, additional investigation revealed that the woman received oxycodone and alprazolam from Brian for sexual acts on several occasions over the prior year, without any legitimate prescription.
The complaint also alleges that Brian and Murray-Overhill engaged in a similar pills-for-sex scheme with another woman. Brian allegedly gave the woman bottles of oxycodone and alprazolam from Murray-Overhill multiple times a week without a prescription in exchange for sex acts. The complaint further alleges that additional evidence confirmed the schemes with these individuals, with over a hundred thousand missing pills of opioids and other controlled substances.
Murray-Overhill has already surrendered its pharmacy registration to the DEA. Murray-Overhill Pharmacy and Brian further agreed to resolve their civil liability under terms outlined in the proposed consent judgment, if accepted by the court. Among other things, Murray-Overhill and Brian would pay $750,000 in civil penalties under the Controlled Substances Act.
The proposed resolution would also permanently prevent Brian from distributing or dispensing any controlled substances in the future and prevent Murray-Overhill Pharmacy from ever applying for a new controlled substance registration from the DEA.
The Delaware County District Attorney’s Office previously filed criminal charges against Brian for the same conduct.
“This case illustrates that the opioid epidemic continues to damage our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “This Office will never allow pharmacies and pharmacists, who held positions of trust, to take advantage of their access to controlled substances at the expense of those in our communities addicted to controlled substances.”
“The allegations against Brian that he repeatedly distributed powerful painkillers and other controlled substances in exchange for sexual acts are repulsive and demonstrate Brian’s total disregard for his legal and ethical responsibilities as a pharmacist,” said Thomas Hodnett, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division. “The DEA, working with its partners such as the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, the Media Borough Police Department, and the Pennsylvania Department of State, will aggressively pursue rogue pharmacists like Brian who are responsible for contributing to the opioid epidemic.”
“This case hits very close to home, involving as it does a pharmacy only a block from the courthouse. While the 81-year old pharmacist maintained a facade of respectability, in trading drugs for sex, he was no better than a dealer selling drugs on a street corner. The public should understand that the law enforcement community is committed to going after the dealers – whoever they may be, and wherever we may find them,” said Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer.
The case is being investigated by the Philadelphia Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, the Media Borough Police Department, and the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation.
The civil investigation, litigation, and proposed resolution are being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony D. Scicchitano and auditor Dawn Wiggins, and was also handled by former Assistant United States Attorney Paul J. Koob, with assistance from Assistant United States Attorney Anthony St. Joseph.
The complaint contains allegations only that the United States must prove if the case proceeds to trial. The proposed consent judgment would resolve any alleged civil liability.