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Two Polk pharmacists charged with trafficking narcotics

TBO.com
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 11:11 AM

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Two Polk County pharmacists were charged today with trafficking in prescription drugs after undercover investigations, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

In the first case, an undercover detective took a prescription for 30, 60 mg Oxycontin pills to the Med Express Rx pharmacy at 1717 Shepherd Road in Lakeland. The prescription was written by a dentist in Lakeland who was working in cooperation with law enforcement, the sheriff's office said.

The detective asked the pharmacist, Ashish Patel of Valrico, 35, to change the prescription to oxycodone, the sheriff's office said. The detective also filled in a blank, signed prescription from the dentist for 30, 30 mg oxycodone pills.

Patel negotiated with the detective and agreed to sell her 70 oxycodone 30 mg pills for $1,000 cash, after he said it was unusual for a dentist to write those prescriptions and noting that the handwriting on one, which was filled out by the detective, was different than the other, according to the sheriff's office.

Patel gave her 50 pills that day and she paid him $1,000, the sheriff's office said. He told her to return the next day for 20 more pills. The next day he asked for $540 and agreed to give her 10 additional pills. In all, the undercover detective paid Patel $1,540 for 80 pills.

During the negotiation, Patel asked the detective to open her car's windows so he could check that she was alone; he also asked her if she was a law enforcement officer, the sheriff's office said.

Patel is charged with trafficking in oxycodone; sale of oxycodone within 1,000 feet of child care facility; possession of oxycodone within 1,000 feet of child care facility; and one count maintaining a structure for trafficking.

In another investigation, a confidential informant told detectives that Kalpeshkumar Patel, 36, a pharmacist at The Apothecary Shop, was selling prescription medication without prescriptions, the sheriff's office said.

Kalpeshkumar Patel is not related to Ashish Patel, the sheriff's office said.

The informant agreed to introduce an undercover detective to Kalpeshkumar Patel, of Orlando, as her brother, the sheriff's office said. The detective and informant went into the pharmacy at 437 S. 11th St., Lake Wales, where the informant introduced the detective and said he wanted to buy pain medication for him.

When the detective said he did not have a prescription, Kalpeshkumar Patel went to the rear of the pharmacy and handed the detective an orange pill bottle filled with 18 hydrocodone pills, saying, "Here we go," the sheriff's office said.

Kalpeshkumar Patel, who refused money for the pills, labeled the bottle with the informant's name and address, his own initials, and the date July 10, which was the last time the informant was at the shop with a valid prescription for the controlled narcotics, the sheriff's office said.

Kalpeshkumar Patel was charged with one count of trafficking in hydrocodone.

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