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Police: Cedar Grove CVS Prescription Frauds Mirror National Trend

Several incidents are not exclusive to the township.

CVS pharmacies has been drawing a lot of attention lately from police following several fraud incidents where customers have been trying obtain controlled dangerous substances.

On Monday, Nov. 5, Cedar Grove police were called to the pharmacy after a store pharmacist reported a woman tried to pass a fraudulent prescription for a Controlled Dangerous Substance. However, when police arrived, the woman had disappeared.

Police responded also responded to the pharmacy, located at 387 Pompton Ave. in the township on Wednesday Oct. 17, after a woman tried to alter her prescription in order to get more Xanax than her prescription allowed.

“A subsequent investigation resulted in the arrest of Sarah J. Pannullo, 24, of Cedar Grove,” police said.

On Friday, Oct. 19, just two days after the incident, police were again called to CVS Pharmacy on Pompton Ave. to investigate the theft of a controlled dangerous substance.”

“The store pharmacist reported that two subjects had come to the pharmacy department at approximately 5:30 p.m. seeking to fill a prescription for Oxycodone,” police said.

When the pharmacist put the prescription down on the counter, one of the suspects grabbed the pills and both suspects fled the store in an unknown direction. Police are still investigating the incident.

These crimes at CVS are not an isolated incident, said Cedar Grove Chief of Police Richard Vanderstreet.

  • In September, West Orange resident Scott P. Dellosso was arrested after he tried to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy while he was allegedly under the influence of a drug.
  • In June Cedar Grove police arrested Amirah N. Bowman of East Orange who fled from the CVS Pharmacy after attempting to obtain Oxycodone with a fraudulent prescription.
  • In May Cedar Grove police arrested 46-year-old Donnell Smith of Newark when he tried to obtain a controlled dangerous substance with a fake prescription from the Pompton Avenue Pharmacy.

In 2010 and 2011, there were 10 arrests made each year for fraud of a controlled dangerous substance at this particular CVS, said Vanderstreet. So far there have been eight arrests at the pharmacy this year.

“Most of these frauds have involved the prescription drug oxycodone,” said Vanderstreet. “There are a number of pharmacies in the tri-state area that are targets. It's not exclusive to Cedar Grove.”

According to Vanderstreet, the increase in fraudulent prescriptions at this location follows a national trend in abuse of painkillers.

“The pharmacists are aware of the increasing number of prescription frauds and routinely check the validity of the prescriptions,” he said. “As of late they are requiring customers to provide two forms of identification. It's a credit to their effort and they are really trying to help alleviate this problem.”

CVS Pharmacists were unable to comment because of the company policy permitting comments from corporate headquarters in Woonsocket, RI. Company officials did not return phone calls for comment.

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