PA’s Highest Prescriber of Pain Medication and Others Arrested in Lawrence County

HARRISBURG – A Lawrence County doctor, known to be the highest prescriber of pain medication in the state, was arrested along with several of his patients, on charges that he illegally prescribed massive quantities of powerful pain medications, which were resold on the streets.

Attorney General Tom Corbett said the suspects were part of a large-scale illegal Oxycodone (Oxycontin and Roxicodone), Morphine, Fentanyl and Methadone distribution ring operating in Beaver, Mercer and Lawrence counties.

Corbett said the investigation focused on Dr. Van Edward Scott of New Castle, Lawrence County, who began practicing medicine in Pennsylvania in 2004. He has operated two offices in the New Castle, originally at State Street, New Castle, and currently at 214Enclave Drive, New Castle.  Prior to establishing his New Castle practice, Scott was an emergency room doctor in the Detroit, Michigan area.

Evidence and testimony regarding the case was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges being filed today.

According to the grand jury, Scott is the highest prescriber of Schedule II controlled substances in Pennsylvania. In one year, Scott allegedly wrote prescriptions for 2.19 million doses, which was 60 percent higher than the second-highest prescriber in the state. 

Agents estimate that 2.19 million doses would have a street value of at least $50 million.

 Corbett noted that Schedule II narcotics are medications designed to hide pain signals in specific regions of the brain and spinal cord. Oxycodone, Morphine, Fentanyl and Methadone are common types of Schedule II narcotics.

 During the summer of 2009, Scott had approximately 509 patients who were charged a monthly fee. Scott did not accept insurance and each patient was required to pay with cash, check or money order.

Corbett said that Scott allegedly spent very little time with his patients and did not take vital signs or provide any meaningful physical exam during office visits.

According to the grand jury, patients reported their physical conditions, requested an increase in current medication, or requested additional drugs, quantities and strengths. Dr. Scott then allegedly provided the patient with the requested prescriptions even though they were not medically required.

“Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in Pennsylvania and across the nation,” Corbett said. “When doctors ignore proper medical guidelines and the law, they become gateways that allow these potentially dangerous drugs to flood the streets of our communities.”

The grand jury identified Dr. Scott’s patients; Raymond Wigton, Kelley Tritt, Joseph Gura, Carrie Parker, William Kroll, Lucinda McNary and George Mali, as major traffickers and suppliers of Oxycontin, Roxicodone, Methadone, Endocet, Fentanyl, Percocet, and Valium. 

 As the investigation progressed, agents made a number of controlled purchases from Scott’s patients and acquaintances between July 2008 and July 2009.

During the course of the investigation, agents executed a series of search warrants and recovered several hundred pills, more than $46,000, 14 firearms including a sawed-off shotgun.

Corbett thanked the Drug Enforcement Agency, Pennsylvania State Police, Butler City Police Department, Cranberry Township Police Department, Ellwood City Police Department, Hermitage Police Department, Neshannock Township Police Department, New Castle Police Department, Penn Township Police Department and Union Township Police Department for their assistance with the investigation.

The defendants will be preliminarily arraigned before New Castle Magisterial District Judge Melissa Amodie.

The case will be prosecuted in Lawrence County by Deputy Attorney General Kristine DeMarco of the Attorney General’s Drug Strike Force Section.

            Below is a list of the defendants and the charges against them.

  • Dr. Van Edward Scott, New Wilmington, Lawrence County, is charged with 21 counts of administration, dispensing, delivery, gift or prescription of a controlled substance and seven counts of prescribing controlled substances to a drug dependant person.
  • Justin Como, 23, Grove City, Mercer County, is charged with three counts of delivery of a controlled substance, three counts of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance, three counts of possession of a controlled substance, one count of criminal use of a communication facility and one count of criminal conspiracy. 
  • Danielle Gable, 33, Altoona, Blair County, is charged with one count of delivery of a controlled substance, one count of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance, one count of possession of a controlled substance and one count of criminal conspiracy.
  • Raymond Wigton, 54, New Castle, Lawrence County, is charged with four counts of delivery of a controlled substance, four counts of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance, four counts of possession of a controlled substance, one count of criminal use of a communication facility and one count of criminal conspiracy.
  • Robert Tritt, 42, West Middlesex, Mercer County, is charged with three counts of delivery of a controlled substance, three counts of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance, three counts of possession of a controlled substance, one count of criminal use of a communication facility and one count of criminal conspiracy.
  • Kelly Deegan, 39, West Middlesex, Mercer County, is charged with two counts of delivery of a controlled substance, two counts of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance, two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of criminal conspiracy.
  • Kelley Tritt, 41,West Middlesex, Mercer County, is charged with two counts of delivery of a controlled substance, two counts of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance, two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of criminal conspiracy.
  • Joseph Gura, 45, Youngstown, OH, is charged with one count of delivery of a controlled substance and one count of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance.
  • Carrie Parker, 41, Pulaski, Lawrence County, is charged with two counts of delivery of a controlled substance, two counts of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.
  • William Kroll, 29, New Castle, Lawrence County, is charged with one count of delivery of a controlled substance, one count of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.
  • Lucinda McNary, 55, New Galilee, Beaver County, is charged with two counts of delivery of a controlled substance, two counts of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.
  • George Mali, 36, Beaver Falls, Beaver County, is charged with one count of delivery of a controlled substance, one count of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.
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