More suspects face charges in illegal prescription case
ELLSWORTH – Warrants have been issued for the arrests of three more suspects in a state attorney general’s office investigation into a drug ring accused of using illegal prescriptions to obtain thousands of narcotics in seven counties, including Washington, a case that resulted in 10 other arrests last week.
State police have warrants to arrest the following on charges of conspiracy and obtaining prescription drugs through misrepresentation: Daniel Madden, 23, of Clairton; Jordan Bular, 25, of Bentleyville; and Edward Deems, 33, of Daisytown, court records show. Bular and Madden also faces charges of forgery and drug possession.
Bular and Deems have been in custody on unrelated charges, and Madden remained at large Monday, a court official said.
“That’s 13 people off the streets,” said Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone, whose office participated in the investigation. “They’re all part of the same crew.”
Vittone said the charges stem from a complicated investigation initiated by state police Trooper Marty Gonglik.
Two arrests last week were tied to a Feb. 12 traffic stop, when driver Edward G. Zupancic, 49, of Scenery Hill, was allegedly found by state police in possession of a prescription for 360 Oxycodone tablets that had just been filled at Kuzy’s Pharmacy in Bentleyville, court records show. Two weeks later, police seized records from the business, which later closed.
Zupancic was accused in a statewide grand jury presentment of using a dying amputee’s drug prescriptions to obtain medications for himself. Named as a codefendant in the case was Mark J. Uniatowski, 48, of McDonald, who is free on unsecured bond.
As part of an ongoing investigation, state police, working for the state attorney general’s office, also arrested Leanne Sachek, 48, named by authorities as the suspected ringleader, her daughter and six others who also were arraigned last week on charges they conspired to obtain doses of Oxycodone, Adderall, Xanax and Opana using phony prescriptions created on Sachek’s computer, a statewide grand jury presentment indicates. Public assistance paid various pharmacies $2,310 for some of the “medically unnecessary” drugs, the record indicates.
Leanne Sachek, of Washington, remains in the Washington County jail on $315,000 bond set by District Judge Curtis Thompson, while her daughter, Nicole, 25, also of Washington, was released on $27,500 bond.
Zupancic, who was jailed on $350,000 bond, faces a preliminary hearing in the case at 10 a.m. Friday before Thompson.
Meanwhile, Pamela Cessna, 54, and her son, Nicholas Cessna, 21, both of North Strabane Township, were named by state police Wednesday as suspects in the investigation, having been arraigned and returned to the Washington County jail on $25,000 bond. The Cessnas have been awaiting trial in Washington County Court on unrelated charges stemming from three area burglaries. Also named Wednesday as suspects in this prescription fraud case was Ryan Ritenour, 28, of Ellsworth, police said.
Vittone said the case speaks to the need for an effective prescription drug monitoring system in Pennsylvania, similar to those used in other states that alert pharmacists about addicts and dealers who visit many pharmacies to obtain drugs in larger-than-needed doses.
“The abuse of prescription medication and heroin has led to a dramatic increase in the number of overdose deaths that have occurred in Washington County and Southwestern Pennsylvania,” Vittone said.
Also arraigned last week in the case were Christin Segedi, 28, of Ellsworth, and Jerome McKee, 54, also of Ellsworth.