Press Release

Erie County Woman Charged for Forging Prescriptions

March 28, 2018 | Topic: Criminal

Attorney General Josh Shapiro: “You can’t get away with forging and illegally filling prescriptions without facing justice.”

HARRISBURG, PA — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced felony charges against an Erie County woman who illegally wrote and filled prescriptions for opioids and Alprazolam, an anxiety medication.

Marisha Winiarczyk, 31, of McCain Avenue, Erie, was charged with obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, insurance fraud, theft by deception and related offenses for forging and illegally filling prescriptions for 450 pills. Although she was working as a registered nurse at Regency at South Shore, investigators learned that Winiarczyk forged her nursing certificate and was not qualified to work in that capacity.

“We are committed to prosecuting drug dealers, whether they are on street corners or staffing doctors’ offices,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “You can’t get away with forging and illegally filling prescriptions for hundreds of pills without facing justice. As Attorney General, I’ll continue to pursue anyone who diverts prescription drugs for illegal use.”

The investigation began following a tip from the office manager of Westminster Family Practice. She told Office of Attorney General agents that several prescriptions were faxed from the Regency at South Shore in Erie to Frontier Pharmacy in Erie that appeared to be issued and authorized by a doctor at the Westminster Family Practice. The South Shore patient for whom the prescriptions were written was not a patient of the doctor, nor were the prescriptions authorized by the doctor.

“Because of this office manager’s vigilance, our agents were able to identify a series of fraudulent prescriptions,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “We’re asking medical professionals and pharmacists across our Commonwealth: If you see something, say something. My office will act on your information and investigate.”

Investigators traced the forged prescriptions to Winiaczyk, who was employed at Regency at South Shore as a registered nurse. She admitted to creating the forged prescriptions in the patient’s name, but claimed she destroyed the medications instead of abusing or selling the drugs.

Attorney General Shapiro is combatting the illegal diversion of prescription medication on multiple fronts. Last year, Shapiro appointed Bob Smulktis to the new position of Director of Diversion, coordinating all efforts in the Attorney General’s office aimed at stopping the illegal diversion of prescription drugs. In 2017, Office of Attorney General agents charged 216 persons for illegally diverting prescription drugs, a 72 percent increase over the previous year.

Winiaczyk’s bail was set at $25,000 bail, pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for April 12. The case will be prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Roger Bauer.

Suspected illegal activity involving the diversion of prescription drugs can be reported by emailing drugdiversion@attorneygeneral.gov.

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