Friday, 10 June 2011 00:00
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced on June 2 the arrest of a Baldwin pharmacist for filling dozens of prescriptions for addictive painkillers, despite knowing that the prescriptions he was filling were forged and written on stolen prescription pads.
Lutful Chowdhury, 61, of Westbury was arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration agents and charged with 14 counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. He was scheduled for arraignment on the day of his arrest.
Rice said that the investigation into Chowdhury began shortly after the arrest of Kayla Gerdes in April 2010 after Gerdes, while high on painkillers, ran over and killed a Hempstead woman while the woman mowed her front lawn. The investigation into Gerdes revealed that she had obtained painkillers by filling forged prescriptions at Aim Pharmacy on Grand Avenue in Baldwin, Rice said.
The investigation into Aim Pharmacy, conducted by the DEA’s Diversion Team and members of the DA’s Street Narcotics and Gang Bureau, revealed that Chowdhury, the supervising pharmacist and owner of Aim Pharmacy, had filled at least 87 prescriptions for painkillers he knew were forged on stolen prescription pads, Rice said. Chowdhury filled the prescriptions for at least five customers besides Gerdes and the prescriptions recovered by investigators were for Oxycodone, fentanyl patches, a powerful painkiller often prescribed to terminally-ill cancer patients, or other highly-addictive painkillers, Rice noted.
The investigation further revealed that Chowdhury regularly filled prescriptions for fentanyl patches several times in the same week for the same customers, never asked any questions, never confirmed any of the prescriptions with the doctors who purportedly prescribed them, and would only accept payments in cash, added the DA.
“This defendant is nothing more than a drug pusher in a lab coat,” Rice said. “Kayla Gerdes was able to easily obtain the drugs that contributed to the tragic death of an innocent woman because Mr. Chowdhury was more interested in easy cash than in doing his job.”
Assistant District Attorney Irene Angelakis of the Street Narcotics and Gang Bureau is prosecuting the case for the DA’s Office.
The charges, Rice explained, are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.