MINEOLA, NY. - Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division United States Drug Enforcement Administration John P. Gilbride and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced today 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 this morning 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 is scheduled to be arraigned later today.
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.
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. Chowdhury filled the prescriptions for at least five customers besides Gerdes. 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.
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.
“Although prescription medication in the right hands, at the right time and in the right place is safe - the reality is - abused prescription medications can be deadly in many ways,” DEA Special Agent in Charge John P. Gilbride said. “They are deadly to those who abuse the drugs and are deadly to those who are affected by the secondhand results of that abuse such as drugged driving. With this arrest it is law enforcement’s hope to remind our community of the dangers of prescription drug abuse. The arrest of Lutful Chowdhury demonstrates our commitment to investigating those responsible for turning a blind eye on fraudulent prescriptions for a profit. DEA works side by side with our state and local law enforcement partners in order to keep our neighborhoods free from drug abuse and the dangers that stem from drug trafficking.”
“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 are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.