10 Charged in Lansing-Area Opioid Prescription Drug Ring

LANSING, MI – Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced felony charges against 10 Lansing-area residents for their alleged roles in an opioid prescription drug ring whose members presented forged prescriptions at several Mid-Michigan area pharmacies in order to obtain prescription pain pills and defraud the Michigan Medicaid Program.

After filling the prescriptions, the drugs were then sold for cash or traded for other drugs

“When misused, prescription drugs can be every bit as dangerous as street drugs,” said Schuette.  “We will continue to aggressively pursue anyone involved in diverting prescription drugs outside the realm of legitimate medical treatment who are contributing to the scourge of opioid addiction to make money, at the detriment to those addicted and to our state as a whole.”

The charges were filed following an investigation completed by Schuette’s Health Care Fraud Division after a complaint was referred to them by the Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad, a multi-jurisdictional drug enforcement team that serves Ingham, Clinton and Eaton Counties.

“I’d like to commend the Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad for their significant role in developing this case,” added Schuette.

The felony complaints filed by Schuette allege that defendants Bicego, Gutkowski, Fritz, Burkett, Lafferty, Roe, Loveall, Madden, Pell, and Vito engaged in a scheme to illegally obtain prescription medications by using fake prescriptions.

Specifically, it is alleged Bicego unlawfully obtained a prescription pad from a Lansing-area doctor’s office where she had previously worked.  Prescriptions were then allegedly forged for the controlled opioid-based substances OxyContin, Norco, Percocet, as well as Adderall.

The complaints allege Lafferty, Burkett, Roe, Fritz, Gutkowski, Pell, Vito, Madden, and Loveall took the fake prescriptions to several Lansing area pharmacies to obtain the pills.  The pills would then be handed over in exchange for cash or drugs.  Several of these allegedly false prescriptions were billed to Medicaid.

Schuette filed the following charges on Monday, January 9th, 2017 against all defendants in the 54B District Court in Ingham County:

Jennifer Bicego, 30-years-old, of Lansing:

Five counts of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.

Six counts of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substance – Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years, or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.

Two counts of Controlled Substance -Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Luke Gutkowski, 22-years-old, of Mason: 

One count of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.

One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Dustin Fritz, 20-years-old, of Lansing:

One count of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.

One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Trisha Burkett, 20-years-old, of Mason: 

One count of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.

One count of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.

One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Jona Lafferty, 20-years-old, of Vernon: 

One count of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.

One count of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.

One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Lance Roe, 33-years-old, of Holt: 

One count of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.

One count of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.

One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, contrary to MCL 333.7407(1)(c), a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Roe will be charged as a Habitual Fourth Offender.

Charles Loveall, 34-years-old, of Holt: 

Two counts of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.

One count of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.

Three counts of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.

Three counts of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Brandon Madden, 32-years-old, of Charlotte: 

Two counts of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.

Two counts of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Andrew Pell, 31-years-old, of East Lansing:

One count of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.

One count of Attempt to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of not more than two years, or up to one year in a county jail, or $1,000.00.

Pell will be charged as a Habitual Second Offender.

Rachel Vito, 27-years-old, of Lansing: 

One count of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.

One count of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.

One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Eight of the 10 defendants were arraigned Tuesday, January 10, 2017 before Judge Andrea Larkin in 54B District Court in East Lansing. A personal recognizance bond was set for seven of the defendants at $25,000. Defendant Bicego’s bond was set at $50,000. Andrew Pell and Lance Roe were arraigned Wednesday, January 11, 2017 before Judge Richard Ball in 54B District Court in East Lansing. Bond for both was set at $25,000.

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