FINDLEY TOWNSHIP – Pennsylvania State Police charged Antoinette Besser, 39, of Hermitage, with illegally calling in more than 16 prescription refills for a narcotic for herself while working at the state prison in Findley Township.
Police said Besser posed as an employee from a Horizon Family Medicine physician’s office in Sharpsville and between September 2014 and March called in refills for a total of 3,480 Ultram tablets. Ultram is a painkiller.
According to the criminal complaint filed at District Justice Lorinda Hinch’s Mercer office, police said they were notified by Besser’s co-workers at the State Correctional Institute – Mercer, who said they heard Besser on March 11 making suspicious telephone calls regarding prescription medications. Colleagues told police they heard Besser complete the call and minutes later watched her shred a piece of paper in the office shredder.
Several co-workers took the shredded paper from the machine, taped it back together and gave it to the police. Detectives said it appeared to be a handwritten note, similar to a prescription, that would be read over the phone to a pharmacy, asking for 240 Ultram 50 milligram tablets.
Police said she called in refills to Rite Aid and Walgreen’s pharmacies in Sharon and Wal-Mart Pharmacy in Hermitage.
Investigators from the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics said Besser picked up all of her prescriptions, except the last one which she tried to get on March 23, when she was stopped by Sharon police in the pharmacy’s drive-through.
She was arrested March 25 and charged with 16 counts of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance and 16 counts of criminal use of a telephone.
Police said Besser confessed to making all of the calls from work and told police she was addicted to Ultram. Investigators said Besser told them that she was able to obtain Ultram tablets online, until the drug was reclassified from a Schedule IV narcotic to a Schedule III in September and she could no longer get them.
Notes in her medical record, according to police, said she had her last legitimate Ultram prescription for 60 tablets in September 2014 and the doctor noted that he would not refill the medication again.
As part of a standard pain contract she signed with her physician, Besser gave consent for authorities to review her prescription history. Police said she told them she used her physician’s Drug Enforcement Agency license number from an old prescription bottle to phone in the refills and admitted to posing as a medical assistant from his office when she called the pharmacies.
She was arraigned before Hinch and released on bond. A preliminary hearing is set for 11 a.m. April 20.