Former Dauphin County doctor charged in illegal drug prescribing practices

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Harrisburg – A former Dauphin County doctor is facing criminal charges this evening after writing fraud prescriptions for pain medications.  Ten others, mostly from central Pennsylvania are also facing charges for filling those prescriptions.  The charges are the result of a Grand Jury investigation.

Dr. Claude Fanelli, formerly a cardiologist with the Penn State Hershey Medical Group is the criminal behind the prescribing practices.   For almost a year and a half, Dr. Fanelli worked with the Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute.  But in September of last year, his practice ended as the result of a prescription forgery ring.

Officials with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office say Dr. Fanelli sold blank pre-signed prescriptions to Donna Essis-Danfora, of York, for $1,000.

According to the Grand Jury, Essis-Danfora recruited nine others, including her son Wadie, to pass the prescriptions at various pharmacies in Dauphin, Lancaster
Cumberland and York Counties.

Between February and April of last year, Agents identified around 26 fraud prescriptions signed by Dr. Fanelli for more than 4,000 Oxycodone pills.  That’s a street value of $111,000.

Fanelli is charged with administering, dispensing, delivering or prescribing a controlled substance not in accordance with treatment principles accepted
by the medical profession, delivery of Oxycodone, criminal conspiracy to deliver Oxycodone, criminal conspiracy to possess Oxycodone by misrepresentation,
fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.

Drug Rehabilitation experts at Clarity Way, in Hanover, say prescription drug abuse is the nation’s fastest growing drug problem, affecting you and your loved ones.

Founder of Clarity Way, Justin Daniels says, “People are getting them from their doctors and children are grabbing them to sell at school or friends are giving them to another friend that may have pain issues, if they get hurt at the gym.  And the next thing you know, they’re addicted to that.”

Daniels is a recovering prescription drug addict. He says doctors like Fanelli can get themselves into illegal situations for the money.

Daniels says, “It’s not surprising that it is a doctor, or a scientist or a lawyer, if you’re addicted it affects everybody.  It doesn’t matter your degree or how much money you have.”

Officials say Dr. Fanelli has voluntarily surrendered his drug and medical licenses.  A complete list of charges the other people face for filling the prescriptions click here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, and you would like help, click here.