29 charged in fake prescription operation in Osceola County

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OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. —

Authorities in Osceola County arrested 29 people in connection with an illegal prescription print shop operation.

Osceola County Investigative Bureau agents worked with the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, Kissimmee Police Department and St. Cloud Police Department to conduct Operation Rx Printshop.            

Authorities targeted a group accused of printing fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone, hydromorphone and alprazolam.

Investigators said the suspects would fill the fraudulent prescriptions and sell them illegally on the street. Those individuals filling the fraudulent prescriptions would be paid with a small amount of the pills in exchange for pretending to be patients, agents said.

The prescriptions were written using "DEA" numbers of unsuspecting physicians not involved in the scheme, authorities said. DEA numbers authorize health care providers to write prescriptions.

Investigators said the ring got its hands on more than 17,000 pills in the course of a year. 

Investigators said even the girlfriend of one of the alleged ring leaders died after an overdose in his home.

Investigators said Matthew Barry, another ring leader, was doing his part in his home, helping figure out how to print up the fraudulent prescriptions.

Agents said they found cellphone and computer records and papers where the suspects practiced writing out the doctor's signatures.

A pharmacist in Kissimmee was the first to catch onto the fraud. He called a doctor's office to verify a prescription for Ashley Young and found out she was not the doctor's patient.

Investigators said they spent more than a year following every lead to track down as many suspects as they could, and more arrests are planned.

Agents arrested 29 suspects on felony warrants and said most will be charged with conspiracy to traffic in oxycodone and hydromorphone, in addition to obtaining prescriptions by fraud and several other charges.

Twenty-one of those arrested are from St. Cloud and six are from Kissimmee.

Investigators said three of those arrested are being held in the Osceola County Jail on bonds of at least $500,000.

Investigators said they’re still looking for four suspects who have similar felony warrants. Those suspects are Amy Dembinski, Mathew Barry, Carolyn Driscoll and Shane David Lee.

According to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, those arrested were: 

John Ballard

Lindsay Berube

James Bronson

Naomi Capper

Ashley Daniels

Kristina Gonzalez

Daniel Grendzinski

David Heap

Nichole Heckerman

Rebecca Hutchison

David King

Leron Jackson

Jason Macki

Brittany Mtysiak

Vikki Muenzel

Angie Murphy

Jason Murphy

Jaime O'Connor

Jeremiah Persyns

Michael Rapp

Donna Ricklefs

James Roberts

Kathleen Roberts

Walter Smith

David Stamper

Daniel Ulivarri

Tina Wickam

Ashley Young

Heather Young