Nurse faces trial in script fraud scheme
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Angela McClain of Palmerton leaving the office of District Judge William Kissner of Palmerton on Wednesday. McClain was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing, but opted to waive the charges to Carbon County Court.
A nurse who worked at a family health care practice in Palmerton will go to court on 55 counts of prescription fraud.
Angela McClain, 42, of Palmerton, was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing Wednesday at the office of District Judge William Kissner of Palmerton.
Instead, McClain chose to waive her right to a hearing and will appear May 2 for a pretrial status conference in the district attorney's office at the Carbon County courthouse in Jim Thorpe.
McClain, who admitted to filling prescriptions for her boyfriend, faces charges on 27 counts of theft by unlawful taking or disposition, movable property; 25 counts of the acquisition or obtaining of possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge; and one count each of possession of a controlled substance, corrupt organizations, and criminal conspiracy to the acquisition or obtaining of possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge.
She remains free in lieu of $25,000 unsecured bail.
According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Brian Rimple, narcotics agent for the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Drug Control:
On Oct. 3, 2011, Rimple was at the Rite Aid, 601 Delaware Ave. in Palmerton, on another case, when pharmacist Nicole Weller gave him a copy of a possible altered prescription. The prescription, presented on Sept. 26, 2011, was for 180 tablets of Oxycodone 30 mg in the name of Lee Daniel. The prescription was from Dr. Edward Manzella. The 180 appeared to be changed from 120.
Weller said when she called the doctor's office that day to verify, McClain, Manzella's nurse, confirmed the prescription was good and that she had changed the quantity to 180.
Weller said she called back on another day and she found out Daniel was not a patient of Manzella's practice at either of his offices in Palmerton or Jim Thorpe.
On the same date, Rimple spoke with Manzella, who said his nurse, McClain, wrote out the prescription. Manzella said he would often sign blank prescriptions and McClain would fill in the information. That practice has stopped.
Manzella called McClain into the kitchen area and showed her the prescription in question. McClain said it was an accident that she confused him with another patient.
The prescription was for Daniel, and was supposed to be for 30 tablets of Oxycodone, not 180 tablets.
Rimple went back to the Rite Aid and Weller ran a patient profile for Daniel. Three other prescriptions were filled in Daniel's name from Manzella. One was for 120 tablets of Oxycodone 30 mg and was filled at the Rite Aid in Palmerton. The other two were filled at the Rite Aid in Brodheadsville; one was for 120 tablets of Roxicodone 15 mg, and the other for 120 tablets of Oxycodone 15 mg.
On Oct. 18, 2011, Rimple was contacted by Agent Troy Serfass. The Rite Aid in Brodheadsville contacted Serfass in reference to two prescriptions from Manzella that pharmacists thought were fake due to the signature. One was for Eddie Szczesny, and the other was for Jessica Campbell. Both of them were for 120 tablets of Oxycodone 30mg.
The next day, Rimple was contacted by Mark Johnson of CVS, in Easton, in reference to a bad prescription he had filled. The prescription, written by Dr. Sujatha Muppala of New Jersey, was for 120 tablets of Oxycodone 30mg for Charles Daniel.
McClain admitted she was having an affair with Szczesny, and started to provide him prescriptions about six to eight months ago.
McClain said Szczesny said he was going to tell her husband about the affair if she did not give him prescriptions. McClain said she also has written prescriptions for Szczesny's friend, Lee Daniel.
McClain said she always filled the prescriptions out and gave them to Szczesny. They usually met at Country Junction for the exchange.
Rimple ran Manzella's DEA number and provided him a list of people who had filled prescriptions for Schedule II drugs from Aug. 1, 2011, to Oct. 21, 2011. Manzella said Szczesny, Charles Daniel, Lee Daniel, and Campbell were not patients of his.
Rimple then ran McClain, Campbell, and Szczesny, and located 17 prescriptions that were filled under Manzella's name since May 4, 2011.
On Oct. 24, 2011, Rimple went to Wilson Police Department and received an incident report from an arrest on Oct. 23, 2011. The person who was arrested was Tyler Cannon. Cannon tried to pass a prescription for Oxycodone from Dr. Muppala, the same doctor on the prescription that Charles Daniel passed on Oct. 18, 2011, at the same location.
On the same day, Rimple went to the Northampton County Prison and interviewed Cannon, who said he was called on Saturday night, Oct. 23, 2011, by Charles Daniel to go to Easton to fill a prescription.
Cannon said that was the second time he agreed to do this for Charles Daniel, who paid him $200 to fill the prescription.
Cannon said the first one was a month earlier, Sept. 22, 2011, and was filled at the same CVS. Cannon said that on the September prescription he was driven to the CVS by Charles Daniel, and that Daniels' brother, Lee, and his father, Charles, along with another unknown male, followed them in another car. Cannon said that this time, it was Charles Daniel, Lee Daniel, and Charles' girlfriend, and that they came down in Charles' girlfriend's car.
Cannon said the prescriptions were already filled out when he got into the car, and that Lee Daniel was in charge of about 20 runners.
Cannon said Charles Daniel and his father were runners for Lee Daniel, and that Lee Daniel is the person who obtained the prescriptions and then sold the pills.
On Feb. 3, 2012, Rimple and Agent Collazo went to 138 Hiro Lane, East Stroudsburg, and met with Charles Daniel Jr., who said he did pass several prescriptions for his brother, Lee Daniel.
Charles Daniel said he received the prescriptions and money from Lee Daniel, and all of the drugs went back to Lee Daniel after he filled them. Charles Daniel stated his girlfriend, Jessica Auster, had drove him to the pharmacies to fill the prescriptions.
Charles Daniel said he could not say if his dad filled any prescriptions or not. Charles Daniel said he was with Cannon when he was arrested at the CVS in Easton., and that he was also with him the first time Cannon filled the prescription at that CVS. Charles Daniel said his girlfriend and Lee Daniel were also there.
Charles Daniel said he never received any money or drugs for doing this; he just did it as a favor for Lee Daniel.
On the same day, Simple and Collazo contacted Szczesny at his residence, 3450 Wild Cherry Lane, East Stroudsburg.
Szczesny said he was introduced to McClain by his mother, as his mother and McClain's mother were friends.
Szczesny said McClain told him she was a doctor and could write him prescriptions. Szczesny said he had pain due to injuries to his shoulder and wrist, and that he went to McClain's office in Palmerton and filled out the paperwork for a new patient.
'Thought she was a doctor'
Szczesny said McClain would give him prescriptions for Oxycodone 30 mg for 120 tablets, and that he filled prescriptions at First National Pharmacy in Lehighton about 10 times, and that McClain would charge him $500 to $300 a prescription.
Szczesny said he would meet McClain at the office either in the early morning or later at night. Szczesny said he would be the only person in the office during the visit.
Szczesny said he did meet McClain twice at Country Junction to drop off money that he owed from prior visits, and that he referred his girlfriend, Campbell, and his friend, Lee Daniel, to McClain also. Szczesny said he did not know that McClain was not a doctor.
Also on the same date, Simple and Collazo interviewed Campbell at 3450 Wild Cherry Lane, East Stroudsburg. Campbell stated her boyfriend, Szczesny, introduced her to McClain, and that she would meet with McClain at the doctor's office in Palmerton, usually in the morning around 7 a.m., or at night after 6 p.m. Campbell said she received a couple prescriptions from McClain, and that she always paid McClain for the visits, which were around $300. Campbell said she filled her prescriptions at the Rite Aid in Brodheadsville. Campbell also said she thought that McClain was a doctor.
On Feb. 27, 2012, Rimple and Collazo interviewed Lee Daniel at the McDonald's located at the intersection of Routes 209 and 115 in Brodheadsville. Lee Daniel said he has been friends with Szczesny since the sixth grade. Lee Daniel said Szczesny moved to Philadelphia, and then came back to the area. Lee Daniel said that when Szczesny came back to the Poconos, he wanted to make money, and his mother's friend's daughter worked in a doctor's office in Palmerton. Lee Daniel said they would meet McClain at a convenience store in Palmerton and pick up prescriptions. The prescriptions were always premade out in his name.
Lee Daniel said he did it for money, as he would be paid between $100 to $200 a prescription that he filled. He would then use the money to buy heroin.
Lee Daniel said Szczesny also recruited his brother and Szczesny's girlfriend. Lee Daniel said he always gave all of the pills back to Szczesny, who he believed delivered them back to McClain. Lee Daniel said the prescriptions and money always came from Szczesny, who would usually drive them to the pharmacies. Lee Daniel said they would always go out once a month, but Szczesny got greedy and he started to go twice a month.
Prescriptions were filled at the CVS in Easton by Campbell, Charles Daniel, and Lee Daniel; at the Kmart Pharmacy at 400 North Best Ave., Walnutport, by McClain; at the Rite Aid at Route 209 and Route 115 in Brodheadsville, by Campbell, Szczesny, and Charles Daniel; at the CVS at Routes 115 and 209 Brodheadsville, by Campbell, Charles Daniel, and Lee Daniel; and at the First National Pharmacy, 141 North First St., Lehighton, by Campbell, Charles Daniel, and Szczesny.