A former pharmacist charged with trafficking drugs for sex has agreed to pay a $750,000 civil penalty to the US government
PHILADELPHIA — An 82-year-old former pharmacist charged last year with allegedly swapping sex for pills has agreed to pay $750,000 in civil penalties and permanently refrain from ever dispensing controlled substances, according to a proposed consent ruling that was filed in federal court, US Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced on Tuesday.
Martin Brian, of Block 1 of Steeplechase Drive in Media, is also awaiting a formal arraignment August 3 on criminal charges of supplying or administering a controlled substance by a practitioner without medical necessity and possession with intent to supply, all unassessed crimes.
“This case hits very close to home as it involves a pharmacy one block from the courthouse,” Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said in a press release announcing the civil settlement. “While the 82-year-old pharmacist maintained a reputable facade, he was no better at trafficking drugs for sex than a street corner dealer. The public should understand that law enforcement is committed to prosecuting the dealers – whoever they are and wherever we find them.
According to an affidavit by Delaware County Detective Sgt. Antonius Ruggieri.
Media Borough Police were dispatched to check on an unconscious man and woman parked behind the pharmacy around 8:32 a.m. on April 18, 2021, the affidavit said. The two were conscious in a silver Toyota Camry with Florida tags when officers arrived and said they were waiting for a friend to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy. The woman later texted someone and didn’t stop when officers told her, according to the affidavit.
Another woman soon left the back of the pharmacy and officers asked her to come into the parking lot, but she reversed course and went back inside, the affidavit said. Then Brian came outside and asked if everything was ok. Officers were able to get the woman — identified as “SE” in the affidavit — to come back from the pharmacy and speak to her, the affidavit said.
SE said she left her phone at the pharmacy when she drove her mum there to pick up a prescription earlier in the week. She described Brian as a friend and said she wanted to show him pictures of her newborn twins.
Brian also described SE as a “friend of a friend” and said she showed him pictures of the newborns but made no mention of her coming to get a phone. Officers confiscated the phones of the woman in the car and SE pending a search warrant.
Investigators later determined Brian had directed SE to tell police, “Your boyfriend and you showed pictures of your babies…nothing more” while police examined the car behind the pharmacy, according to the affidavit. SE had texted the man in the car around the same time, saying, “I had 60 30s and 60 Zies but I had to throw them in when I saw them all out here,” the affidavit reads.
The US Drug Enforcement Agency later conducted an audit of the pharmacy over the past five years and allegedly found numerous discrepancies in the Oxycodone and Xanax deals.
Brian was reportedly short on 58,483 pills of oxycodone 30 mg and 31,973 pills of 2 mg Xanax. He was also missing 11,358 tablets of 1 mg Xanax, 5,610 tablets of 0.5 mg Xanax and 228 tablets of 0.025 mg Xanax, the affidavit said.
A review of DEA databases found that Murray-Overhill Pharmacy was the largest single purchaser of buprenorphine, fentanyl, hydrocodone and oxycodone drugs in its zip code, according to its affidavit, and that tens of thousands of tablets for these products were also unrecorded.
SE allegedly admitted to DEA agents that she had been providing Brian with sexual favors and money in exchange for prescription drugs for about a year. The two meet about once a week, she said, and she gave him oral sex at the controlled-substance pharmacy on the morning of April 18, according to the affidavit.
Investigators also spoke to a woman identified as “JM” in October, who allegedly said she had had a similar arrangement with Brian for several years. JM said she first met Brian seven years ago through a website that advertised “wealthy men seek company” and that their relationship evolved into face-to-face meetings, which the affidavit said happened almost every other day.
These meetings began at hotels or his private home and eventually at the pharmacy, the affidavit said. Sometime around two years ago, Brian reportedly told her that he could save a lot of money on these encounters if she accepted pills instead of cash, the affidavit said.
JM allegedly told Brian that this was dangerous because the pills were monitored by the state, but Brian didn’t care and started giving her 100 vials of 15 mg or 30 mg of oxycodone every time they met, it says in the affidavit.
“JM stated that she couldn’t even count the number of manufacturer’s oxycodone bottles that Brian gave her,” the affidavit reads. “They met 2-4 times a week and he would provide her with a bottle of 100 oxycodone 30mg each time, or if he was short of oxycodone 30mg supply he would give her double the amount of oxycodone 15mg -tablets, so it was the same the same amount.”
Brian also allegedly provided JM with 500-count 2mg Xanax tablets after she told him her sister had lost her insurance and could no longer afford medication for her seizures, the affidavit said.
“The allegations against Brian that he repeatedly distributed powerful painkillers and other controlled substances in exchange for sexual activity are repugnant and demonstrate Brian’s total disregard for his legal and ethical responsibilities as a pharmacist,” said Thomas Hodnett, the DEA’s special agent in charge in Philadelphia Field Division in the publication.
The civil complaint and proposed consent agreement, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, shows the pharmacy filed its DEA registration back in June 2021 and Brian filed his license in November.
The agreement provides for $750,000 in civil penalties under the Controlled Substances Act to be paid by Friday and does not constitute a refund. It also notes that Murray-Overhill will never seek reinstatement or registration of a new controlled substance will apply to the DEA and that Brian will be permanently barred from ever distributing or dispensing controlled substances in the future.
“This case demonstrates that the opioid epidemic continues to damage our communities,” Romero said in the release. “This office will never allow pharmacists and trusted pharmacists to exploit their access to controlled substances at the expense of those in our communities who are addicted to controlled substances.”