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Ashland doctor charged

Published January 03. 2014 05:01PM

HARRISBURG - Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane on Thursday announced charges against a Schuylkill County doctor who allegedly prescribed significant quantities of controlled substances to drug-dependent patients.

Evidence and testimony was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges being filed against Dr. Stephanie Tarapchak, 45, 1239 Centre St., Ashland.

Tarapchak is a doctor of osteopathic medicine, who specializes in internal medicine. The grand jury found that Tarapchak's prescribing practices allegedly led to multiple overdoses, including the death of a 52-year-old male patient.

According to the grand jury, between January 2008 and August 2011, Tarapchak unlawfully prescribed and dispensed thousands of controlled substances including the highly addictive drugs oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Investigators found that in addition to prescribing medication to drug dependent patients, Tarapchak ordered excessive amounts of controlled substances from a wholesale supplier, including phentermine (a schedule IV diet pill), injectable Midazolam (a schedule IV sedative), testosterone, diazepam (generic form of Valium), and diphenhydramine (a generic Benadryl).

Further investigation into Tarapchak's prescribing practices uncovered that she was allegedly prescribing the drugs to patients and family without performing any type of physical examination. She also allegedly dispensed drugs to herself, patients and family members from office supplies and it is also alleged that she smuggled controlled substances into the Lackawanna County Prison.

According to the grand jury, in June 2011, one of Tarapchak's patients died from a prescription overdose four days after being prescribed excessive amounts of oxycodone. A toxicology report following the death revealed the presence of oxycodone and other drugs, the same categories of drugs which had been prescribed by Tarapchak.

The grand jury found that in order to supply her drug addiction, Tarapchak fraudulently billed insurance companies for patient visits and procedures that were never performed and split the payments with her staff and patients.

Tarapchak is charged with one count of corrupt organizations, one count of drug delivery resulting in death, one count of prescribing outside the scope of practice, one count of distribution/prescription to a drug dependent person, one count of refusal or failure to keep records, one count of controlled substance contraband to confined persons, one count of perjury, one count of endangering the welfare of children, one count of recklessly endangering another person, one count of insurance fraud, one count of theft by deception and one count of criminal conspiracy.

Tarapchak's state license to practice medicine was suspended in March 2012. Tarapchak was preliminarily arraigned and placed in the Lackawanna County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 9 at 11 a.m. in Lackawanna County Central Court.

Attorney General Kane thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania for their assistance with the investigation.

The case will be prosecuted in Lackawanna County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Robert LaBar of the Attorney General's Insurance Fraud Section.

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