Westmoreland County doctor accused of writing 332 illegal Hydrocodone prescriptions

HARRISBURG — A Westmoreland County doctor was arrested for illegally writing and filling 332 prescriptions for the narcotic Hydrocodone, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Wednesday.

Dr. Ralph A. Capone, 64, of Greensburg, is accused of writing the prescriptions in the names of his family members, Shaprio said in a press release. One of the prescriptions was written in Capone’s name.

Hydrocodone, an opiod-based prescription drug used to treat coughs, colds and respiratory infections, is chemically similar to morphine and other opiate medications, Shapiro said. It is subject to abuse, and is classified as a Schedule II narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act.

Capone was arrested after a joint investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and the Westmoreland County Drug Task Force. The investigation found that Capone allegedly diverted 268 prescriptions for Hydrocodone syrup, 38 prescriptions for Hydromist syrup, and 26 prescriptions for Hydrocodone pills between October 2014 and September of this year, Shapiro said.

He wrote the prescriptions in the names of his mother, brother, wife, and children, and filled them at local pharmacies without family members’ knowledge, according to Shaprio.

“This doctor fraudulently obtained prescription drugs for personal use by using the names of his family members, at times even his children,” Shapiro said. “Not only is this illegal, it could have impacted the quality of medical care that he was providing to his patients. We will continue to prosecute anyone who illegally abuses prescription drugs, including health care professionals.”

Under Pennsylvania law, physicians are prohibited from prescribing controlled substances to themselves or immediate family members except in emergency situations. Following a recent search warrant at his home, Capone admitted he wrote and filled the prescriptions for personal use.

Felony charges against Capone include multiple counts of acquisition of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery or deception and identity theft. The case will be prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Tomm Mutschler.  Bail was set at $50,000 unsecured, and Capone was released on his own recognizance. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, October 24 at 10:00 a.m.