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Local physician allegedly involved in prescription scheme

Published July 05. 2013 05:04PM

Although not formally charged, a local doctor is accused by the state Office of the Attorney General of obtaining over $400,000 worth of prescription pills at three area pharmacies with the intent of reselling them.

Dr. John "Jack" Manzella, who is part of Manzella Family Healthcare with offices in Palmerton, Jim Thorpe, and Tamaqua, is named as a conspirator to Robert James Kosch, 56, of Newark, N.J.

Nobody else affiliated with Manzella Family Healthcare is mentioned as being involved in the incidents.

Kosch was charged, in a criminal complaint filed in Lehigh County, with the following:

• (69 counts) Acquisition of obtaining of possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge.

• (69 counts) Administration, dispensing, delivery, gift, or prescription of any controlled substance by any practitioner.

• (69 counts) Manufacture, possession with intent to deliver, or delivery of a controlled substance.

• (69 counts) Possession of a controlled substance.

• (1 count) Conspiracy, acquisition or obtaining of possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.

• (1 count) Identity theft.

Most of the charges are felonies. No hearing date is listed for Kosch.

In May, Kosch and Manzella were indicted before Superior Court Judge N. Peter Conforti at Sussex County Courthouse in Newton, N.J.

Dr. Manzella wasn't available this morning for comment.

According to court records, Manzella was indicted on a charge of two counts of conspiracy with Kosch to commit the offenses of unlawful practice of medicine and forgery.

Kosch also was indicted on 10 counts of forgery, unlawful practice of medicine, distribution of false government documents, fraud upon Chase/JP Morgan Bank and possession of personal identifying information.

It was because of the New Jersey indictments that Kosch was charged in Pennsylvania.

The affidavit against Kosch, filed in the office of District Judge Carl Balliet of Allentown, states:

"That on April 17, 2013, the Sussex County Prosecutors Office notified the Office of Attorney General (in Pa.) reference to a mortgage fraud and possible conspiracy between Robert Kosch and Dr. John 'Jack' Manzella involving prescriptions being filled for Oxycodone in fictitious names."

It adds that evidence obtained from Kosch's office via a search warrant included "unfilled prescriptions in different names, patient profile forms, bank statements, hand written notes containing patients' names, and dates of birth and letters by Dr. Manzella verifying patients were indeed under his care."

Agent Jose Collazo of the Office of the Attorney General states in the affidavit that he executed three separate search warrants at Dr. Manzella's offices. He writes in the criminal complaint:

"Of the 35 patient files that your affiant sought based on names of alleged patients of Dr. Manzella, for which the doctor had written prescriptions, only nine files existed, even though Dr. Manzella is required to maintain records of controlled substances he had prescribed."

Collazo adds that he found numerous prescriptions from Manzella filled in the counties of Bucks, Carbon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, and Schuylkill.

"These prescriptions were filled in Robert Kosch's name and numerous other names," says the affidavit. "The pharmacies actually verified several of these prescriptions with Dr. Manzella. More importantly, many of these names were found on Kosch's notepad."

One pharmacy in Lehighton, which generally does not dispense to the public but fills for facilities such as nursing homes, dispensed approximately 10,230 oxycodone 30 mg pills in the names of Kosch and two other individuals, the affidavit says. One of the individuals had no patient file. The other individual was last seen by Manzella as a patient in 2010, the affidavit reports.

A pharmacy in Jim Thorpe dispensed about 3,600 oxycodone pills to "John Molina" (Kosch) between January 2011 and July 2012, prescribed by Manzella, says the affidavit.

An Allentown pharmacy dispensed about 2,910 oxycodone pills from May 2011 through October 2012 for Thomas Lembo (Kosch), alleges Collazo.

The affidavit concludes:

"Based on evidence and your affiant's training and experience, Robert Kosch and Dr. John Manzella conspired to unlawfully obtain oxycodone through misrepresentation and fraud. Over a 22 month period a total of 13,000 pills were dispensed by (the pharmacies in Lehighton, Jim Thorpe, and Allentown) to Robert Kosch for an approximate value in excess of $400,000. In your affiant's expert opinion, these pills were possessed with intent to deliver to another/others."

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