Crime & Courts

New details in federal indictment of Wichita pharmacist linked to doctor facing trial

AP file photo

A Wichita pharmacist was indicted Tuesday on charges of illegally dispensing nearly 100,000 prescription opioid pills, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office identified the pharmacist as Ebube Otuonye, 45, owner of Neighborhood Pharmacy, 2251 E. 21st North.

The indictment alleges that Otuonye, 45, unlawfully distributed 21,681 Oxycodone tablets, 48,683 Methadone tablets, 18,049 Hydromorphone tablets and 7,890 Alprazolam pills, the office said.

The Eagle reported in late June that Otuonye was charged. Tuesday’s announcement provided more details about the case.

According to the indictment, the prescriptions were written by Wichita doctor Steven R. Henson and “were issued outside the usual course of professional medical practice and without a legitimate medical purpose,” the office said.

Henson faces an Oct. 2 trial on charges of unlawfully prescribing prescription drugs.

Otuonye provided excessive prescriptions for cash, the indictment says. “He filled prescriptions for multiple patients presenting at one time or back-to-back and patients from the same family with identical prescriptions,” the statement said.

“The large quantities should have put him on notice as a pharmacist of the potential danger to customers of abuse or overdose.”

The indictment alleges that Otuonye defrauded Medicare and Medicaid by submitting claims for illegally filled prescriptions.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of more than $122,000 in proceeds from the alleged crimes in addition to Otuonye’s pharmacy license and his DEA registration number. His license was issued in 1998.

If convicted, Otuonye faces up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $1 million on the drug charges. He faces up to 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on the health care fraud charges.

The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated the case.