VENTURA COUNTY - State investigators assigned to the Ventura County Interagency Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit assisted with a fraudulent prescription investigation that led to the arrest of four people accused of using forged prescriptions to obtain controlled medication.
The investigation began in May 2017, when a CVS pharmacy in Thousand Oaks determined a prescription that had been passed was fraudulent. The Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit (PCU), which consists of local, state, and federal investigators, determined the incident was much larger than one passed forged prescription. The PCU eventually determined four suspects were involved in passing up to 100 forged prescriptions in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties.
Law enforcement officers made the first two arrests on May 27th, at a Walgreens Pharmacy in Thousand Oaks. Arrested were Daniel Key, 34 and Meldin Merrill, 61, both of Thousand Oaks. Key and Merrill were identified as the two suspects who passed forged prescriptions at multiple pharmacies in the city of Thousand Oaks. When officers searched their vehicle, they found evidence relating to forged prescriptions.
Upon evaluating evidence, investigators learned of two additional suspects involved in passing forged prescriptions and on June 14th arrested Saliba Tannous, 43, and Eric Florence, 21, both of Reseda. In a search of their home, investigators found blank and completed forged prescriptions, numerous controlled medications, as well as a large sum of money. According to investigators, Tannous was the person responsible for creating the forged prescriptions using a valid doctor’s information without his/her consent or authority.
“State investigators assigned to this task force have contributed to the fight against prescription drug abuse in this state,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “It’s a widespread problem that has to be fought on many levels, including law enforcement.”
The Ventura County Interagency Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit is a task force made up of members from the
- Ventura County Sheriff's Office,
- Thousand Oaks Police Department,
- California Highway Patrol,
- Drug Enforcement Administration,
- California Department of Consumer Affairs, Division of Investigation - Health Quality Investigation Unit
- California Department of Health Care Services.
The primary mission of the task force is combating the transfer of legal prescription medication to the illegal market. In addition, the task force works to identify and stop new trends of abuse among the younger population and investigates overdose deaths due to both prescription medication and illicit drug use.