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Horsham doc, Philly druggist charged in Oxycodone scam

A 71-year-old Horsham doctor was charged Wednesday with conspiring with an alleged Philadelphia drug dealer to traffic in illegal prescription painkillers that sold for a total of $5 million on city streets.

A 71-year-old Horsham doctor was charged Wednesday with conspiring with an alleged Philadelphia drug dealer to traffic in illegal prescription painkillers that sold for a total of $5 million on city streets.

Norman M. Werther, whose family practice is in Willow Grove, pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court to plead not guilty. A slight man barely 5 feet tall, wearing a plaid shirt and jeans, Werther sat in court next to William Stukes, an alleged drug trafficker accused of orchestrating the sale of 200,000 Oxycodone pills obtained through Werther.

Prosecutors said Stukes, 49, of Philadelphia, sent fake patients to Werther's office, where the doctor gave them a cursory examination and then wrote medically unnecessary prescriptions for Oxycodone. The pseudo-patients then turned the drugs over to Stukes, who had them sold on the street.

Werther did not appear to acknowledge Stukes during the 45 minutes both were in court. Stukes, a heavyset man well over 6 feet tall who was wearing a blue T-shirt and red shorts, is also known as "Bones," "Twins," "Shooter," and "Shotgun," according to court documents.

Werther was released on $1 million bail. Stukes was held pending a hearing. In the 1990s, he served two short jail sentences on theft charges and a third on a drug charge, and was arrested by Philadelphia police on drug charges in March.

In 2008, a Common Pleas Court judge awarded Werther $4.9 million in a business dispute with a partner in a medical devices company. Court records do not indicate whether the judgment was paid.

According to the indictment, Stukes and others in his organization recruited large numbers of pseudo-patients, packed them into SUVs, and drove them to Werther's office. Werther was paid $150 per visit.

The psuedo-patients were then driven to pharmacies throughout the area to have the prescriptions filled.

Also charged was pharmacist Ihsanullah "Sean" Maaf, 33, of Philadelphia. He filled many of the Oxycodone prescriptions. He is also charged with money laundering.

U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said at a news conference that Stukes' organization had earned more than $5 million since September 2009. He said Werther's and Maaf's conduct was "just like the street-level drug dealer."

Memeger declined to discuss how Stukes and Werther met. Werther's attorney declined to comment after the brief hearing and did not return a call seeking comment.

The investigation, involving the FBI, DEA, and the Department of Health and Human Services, has led to charges against 53 people, many of them fake patients who used government health care to buy the painkillers. All but nine are in custody. Most of the fake patients are charged with drug trafficking and health-care fraud.

Also charged were three members of Werther's office staff.