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Druggists both plead guilty to charges

By Ed Runyan

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

By Ed Runyan


Andrea Luchette and Robert Gaves committed drug offenses while working as pharmacists at Overholt’s Champion Pharmacy in 2007 and 2008 — before the pharmacy was sold to the current owners.

Gerard O’Hare, one of the three people who took over the Mahoning Avenue pharmacy from former owner Ken Overholt in October 2009, said Luchette and Gaves were gone from the pharmacy before they purchased it on Jan. 1, 2010, and also before they took it over and ran it for the three months before that.

Overholt sold the pharmacy to O’Hare, Josh Benamoz and Dan Benamoz in late 2009 because Overholt was ill, O’Hare said.

The new owners also have a pharmacy in Brownsville, Pa., near Uniontown, O’Hare said.

Luchette, 39, of Yankee Run Drive, Masury, and Gaves, 65, of Orchard Street, Newton Falls, pleaded guilty Friday in separate hearings to five counts of complicity to deception to obtain a dangerous drug. They’ll be sentenced later.

Prosecutors said the two pharmacists filled thousands of prescriptions written by Dr. Peter Franklin, 73, of Bainbridge Township in Geauga County, who was killed by his wife, Sandra, in August 2009 during an argument.

Dr. Franklin operated a family-medicine and pain-management practice in Middlefield until his death. Sandra Franklin worked at the office. She eventually was convicted of his killing and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Prosecutors said the charges against Luchette and Gaves resulted because they failed in their duty to protect consumers, who in some cases were being given pain medications in quantities as much as 10 times the normal daily dosage.

Police and state narcotics agents raided Dr. Franklin’s office in Middlefield in February 2009 after they received complaints from patients or their families about addictive drugs.

The plea agreements for Luchette and Gaves call for them to testify against any individuals who may have participated in drug trafficking at the pharmacy in 2007 and 2008.

Specifically, the agreement calls on them to testify and provide information “due to [their] business and social relationships and dealings” with each other and Overholt.

Dr. Franklin wrote prescriptions with instructions on them saying they could only be filled at the Overholt’s Champion Pharmacy, officials said.

Overholt, who served as a Champion Township trustee from 1982 to 1997, lived on Durst Drive in Champion. He could not be reached Tuesday.

Overholt obtained his pharmacy license in 1978, but it expired in September 2010 after he failed to renew it.