JUNE 12 (PHILADELPHIA) - A federal jury, today, found Dr. Norman Werther, 74, of Ft. Washington, PA, guilty of more than 300 counts, including distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death. In addition to the charge of distribution resulting in death, the jury found Werther guilty of 184 counts of illegally distributing oxycodone, 116 counts of money laundering, six counts of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises. Werther faces a mandatory 20 years and maximum sentence of life in prison. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled. Werther remains free on bail until Friday, June 14, 2013.
Werther was part of a multi-million dollar drug conspiracy involving illegal prescriptions, phony patients, and multiple drug trafficking organizations. At the time, Werther was a Montgomery County physician, running a physical therapy and rehabilitation practice in Willow Grove. He conspired with six separate groups of drug dealers.
“Dr. Werther turned his back on his professional code of ethics, becoming nothing more than a common drug pusher,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Louis Lappen. “He is the antithesis of a physician. The sentence mandated for his crimes should ensure that he will never again be free to harm another human being.”
“Drug diversion is a growing epidemic in our society made worse by the professional people who turn their backs on their ethics to line their pockets at great risk to others,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge David G. Dongilli. “We will continue our diligent efforts to crackdown on this growing problem.”
“The diversion of dangerous prescription drugs is a public health epidemic and a serious problem,” said Special Agent in Charge Nick DiGiulio with Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General in Philadelphia. “We work with our partners to dismantle these lethal drug trafficking organizations and to bring physicians like Dr. Werther to justice.”
Werther worked with drug traffickers who recruited large numbers of pseudo-patients. Werther set aside a specific block of time each business day to see the pseudo-patients recruited by Ronald Campbell, Anthony DiPasquale, Angel DuPrey, Kyle Jones, and William Stukes. With the help of Werther’s office staff, those “patients” were transported to Werther’s medical office, at 301 Davisville Road in Willow Grove, PA, for cursory examinations. The “patients” paid an office visit fee, usually $150, by cash, check, or money order, and Werther wrote prescriptions for them to obtain oxycodone-based drugs without there being a legitimate medical purpose for the prescription and outside the usual course of professional practice. The “patients” were then driven to various pharmacies, including Northeast Pharmacy, to have their prescriptions filled. The drugs were then turned over to the drug dealers so their organizations could sell the narcotics to numerous drug dealers who resold the drugs on the street.
In September 2010, Werther knowingly dispensed approximately 150 pills containing 30 milligrams each of oxycodone, and 30 pills containing 15 milligrams each of oxycodone, to Nathaniel Backes for no legitimate medical purpose and Nathaniel Backes’ death resulted from the use of that substance.
The drug conspiracy involving Dr. Werther operated between February 2009 and August 2011 and resulted in the illegal distribution of more than 700,000 pills containing oxycodone. At least one of the drug trafficking organizations working with Werther trafficked pills valued at more than $5 million that Werther illegally prescribed.
The crimes of conspiracy, distribution of controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute, and money laundering each carry a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from the Philadelphia Police Department, the North Coventry Police Department, the Upper Moreland Police Department, and the Montgomery Township Police. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nancy Beam Winter and Jason Bologna.