Man accused of stealing dying amputee’s prescriptions

May 23, 2013
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Edward G. Zupancic
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Leann Sachek
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Nicole R. Sachek

A dying man’s friend who helped him after his leg was amputated is accused of stealing his Oxycodone and Opana prescriptions and fabricating them to receive dozens of pain medication doses for his own use, according to a statewide grand jury presentment.

The state attorney general’s office Wednesday arrested Edward G. Zupancic, 49, of 311 Urquhart Road, Scenery Hill, on charges of felony possession of a controlled substance, conspiracy, forgery and identity theft after investigators provided evidence that showed he took the prescriptions to obtain the narcotics 79 times over two years, beginning in February 2010.

State agents also charged Mark J. Uniatowski, 48, of 123 Champion St., McDonald, in the investigation, accusing him of agreeing with Zupancic to illegally obtain drugs.

Meanwhile, state police Wednesday also arrested Nicole R. Sachek, 25, and her mother, Leann Sachek, 45, both of 1010 Brush Run Road, Washington, and Melissa M. Brown, 32, of 411 Pike Run Road, Daisytown, as state and federal investigations discovered fraudulent prescriptions were being passed at several pharmacies in the region to obtain narcotics, court records show. All five arrests were processed through the office of District Judge Curtis Thompson in Ellsworth.

In the grand jury presentment, signed by Supervising Judge Norman A. Krumenacker III, investigators said Zupancic copied the prescription from his friend, Charles Dickson, numerous times while the man suffered from a myriad of health problems before he died in September 2012. Zupancic would help Dickson with home care and physician visits and also would pick up his pain medication at a pharmacy.

Even though Dickson usually had his prescription filled at Asti’s Pharmacy in Castle Shannon, investigators said Zupancic typically drove to Kuzy’s Pharmacy in Bentleyville to get the drugs. Investigators said Zupancic had the monthly prescription filed several times each month and paid with cash most of the time.

Investigators began suspecting Zupancic of the thefts when Dickson’s wife told police that he was bringing other people into the house and she believed he was taking advantage of her husband.

State police pulled Zupancic’s vehicle over on Feb. 2, 2012, while leaving Kuzy’s Drug Store and found him with a bottle filled with 360 Oxycodone pills. However, one of the pills was missing, prompting them to ramp up the investigation. The forged prescription was used four more times after the traffic stop, according to investigators.

Workers at Kuzy’s Pharmacy said Zupancic identified himself as either Dickson or Dickson’s nephew when he would arrive to request the prescriptions.

Investigators further accuse Uniatowski of having a previously valid prescription that was used to scan duplicates for future use. The two of them allegedly used the altered prescription 22 times at Kuzy’s Pharmacy.

Uniatowski was charged with possession of a controlled substance, conspiracy, forgery and identity theft. He was released on $350,000 unsecured bond after turning himself in and waiving his right to a preliminary hearing before Thompson, a court officials said.

Thompson remanded Zupancic to Washington County Jail on $350,000 bond.

As part of ongoing investigations, state police on Oct. 8, 2012, served a search warrant at 236 Richey St., Centerville, where they found Nicole Sachek in possession of a small amount of marijuana, court records indicate.

Police also seized cellphones belonging to both Sacheks as well as a computer, evidence that revealed “criminal activity allegedly involving them and others,” court records show.

The younger Sachek is accused of obtaining 90 Oxycodone tablets on one occasion last year from a Rite Aid in McKeesport in the name of Missy Brown, using the name of physician Joshua Goodrum, who practices in Washington. The investigation also revealed many of the fraudulent prescriptions were made on a computer that was moved from 2173 E. National Pike, Scenery Hill, and moved to 236 Richey St. in Centerville, the record shows.

Nicole Sachek was charged with identity theft, forgery, misrepresentation to obtain drugs, drug possession, possession of a small amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Thompson remanded her to Washington County Jail on $25,000 bond.

Her mother is free on $25,000 bond facing identical charges filed by the state police.

Police accuse her of misrepresenting herself to obtain prescriptions for others for Lorcet and Adderall and passing them March 18 at a Rite Aid in Charleroi.

Brown was charged by state police with conspiracy, misrepresentation to obtain drugs, forgery and drug possession and released on $25,000 unsecured bond. She was accused of using prescriptions created on the same computer to obtain 180 tablets of Oxycondone in September and other drugs on three occasions last year from pharmacies in Fayette County, court records show.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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