Beacon Journal staff report
An Akron doctor is accused of feeding the painkiller addiction of some patients, even after others died of overdose-related causes, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Dr. Adolph Harper Jr., 63, who had a practice on Romig Road in Akron, and three of his office workers were named in a 134-count indictment announced by U.S. attorneys in Cleveland.
He is accused of prescribing hundreds of thousands of pain meds unnecessarily to patients, some of whom he never examined, between 2009 and 2012, prosecutors said.
The drugs include powerful painkillers such as Oxycontin, Percocet and Opana. Anti-anxiety medications were also improperly prescribed, prosecutors said.
Office workers Adria Harper, 34, of Akron, Patricia Laughman, 51, of Barberton, and Tequilla Berry, 35, of Akron, are also named in the indictment.
The indictment accuses the three of conspiring with the doctor to traffic pharmaceutical drugs, drug trafficking and health-care fraud.
Adria Harper, Laughman and Berry used Adolph Harper’s prescription pad to obtain painkillers for themselves or for patients when the doctor was not in the office, according to the indictment.
The doctor is also accused of defrauding health insurance providers for higher-than-justified bills or unperformed services and billing the companies after patients paid with cash.
“The charges describe a defendant who is simply a drug dealer with a stethoscope who happens to work from a medical office instead of a street corner,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “His actions destroyed families and lives.”
The case was investigated by the FBI, Akron police, the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, the Department of Health and Human Services and agents with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Just because you have a prescription pad does not give you a license to deal drugs,” said Steven D. Anthony, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Cleveland office. “Not only did this doctor violate the physician’s oath but he also allowed others in his office to abuse his medical privileges.”