Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane on Wednesday announced the arrests of 22 people who she said took part in a statewide prescription-drug ring based in Philadelphia that netted profits of $1.7 million over four years.
Her announcement, at a news conference in Philadelphia, came on the same day that the state Supreme Court unsealed documents revealing that a grand jury had recommended criminal charges against Kane for allegedly leaking confidential information in an unrelated grand jury probe.
In announcing charges in the drug case, Kane said the ring operated in 44 of the state's 67 counties and dealt more than 59,000 oxycodone pills.
Four people were in custody on charges of drug dealing, conspiracy, and related charges Wednesday, and Kane said 10 remained at large. Others were scheduled to surrender to authorities or were already in prison.
"This is not the end," Kane said, standing outside her Philadelphia office on Essington Avenue. "This is the beginning. We will do our jobs every single day, and we want people to be aware of the problem of prescription-pill abuse."
A grand-jury investigation found that the alleged ringleader, Kevin Andrews Jr., 37, of Delaware County, forged the identities of 50 doctors across the state.
Authorities say Andrews coached Quiana Bostick, an employee at a Philadelphia Rite Aid store, to change telephone numbers of doctors in the pharmacy's database. Bostick altered 32 physicians' phone numbers between March and June 2014, investigators said.
The calls were directed to Andrews, who posed as a member of that doctor's office when a pharmacist called, authorities said. Andrews confirmed the fraudulent prescriptions, which were later picked up by the drug organization's runners, they said.
Two Philadelphia residents - Raheem Hall, 42, and Zakee Hasan, 38 - were "directly below" Andrews in the ring's hierarchy, and recruited and drove buyers, Kane said. Both were taken into custody Wednesday.
Investigators said they discovered a pattern of identical handwriting and wording on the organization's fake prescriptions.
The cases will be prosecuted in Blair County.