A Baldwin pharmacist has been accused of overlooking forgeries when filling dozens of prescriptions for painkillers, including those acquired by a woman who caused a fatal crash while allegedly driving high on the drugs last year.
Lutful Chowdhury was arrested Thursday by federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents and charged with 14 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument. He will be arraigned at First District Court in Hempstead.
Nassau County prosecutors said the 61-year-old Westbury man, the supervising pharmacist and owner of Aim Pharmacy on Grand Avenue, had filled at least 87 prescriptions for painkillers he knew were forged on stolen prescription pads.
Among those the prescriptions he filled were those for 19-year-old Kayla Gerdes of Freeport, who authorities said was high on painkillers when she allegedly ran over and killed a Hempstead woman while the woman mowed her front lawn in April 2010.
Investigation later learned Gerdes obtained painkillers by allegedly filling forged prescriptions at Aim Pharmacy.
“This defendant is nothing more than a drug pusher in a lab coat,” District Attorney Kathleen 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.”
Prescriptions recovered during the investigation were for commonly abused addictive medications like Oxycodone and fentanyl patches, a powerful painkiller often prescribed to terminally-ill cancer patients.
Chowdhury allegedly filled prescriptions for fentanyl patches several times in the same week for the same five customers, no questions asked, without checking with the doctors who purportedly prescribed them, and would only accept payments in cash, prosecutors said.
He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. It was not immediately clear if he had hired an attorney.
Gerdes has pleaded not guilty to two dozen charges related to the crash, including vehicular manslaughter. She is being held on $200,000 bail at Nassau County jail and is due back in court next Friday.