AG Schuette charges 10 in Lansing-area opioid ring

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LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Ten Lansing-area people face felony charges for their alleged roles in an opioid prescription drug ring.

Attorney General Bill Schuette announced the charges today.

Schuette says the ten were using forged prescriptions to obtain pain pills and defraud the Michigan Medicaid Program.

He says after getting the prescriptions filled the drugs were sold for cash or traded for other drugs,

Schuette says the controlled opioid-based substances OxyContin, Norco, Percocet, as well as Adderall were obtained by forged prescriptions.

The charges were filed following an investigation completed by Schuette’s Health Care Fraud Division after a complaint was referred to them by the Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad, a multi-jurisdictional drug enforcement team that serves Ingham, Clinton and Eaton Counties.

Investigators say 30-year-old Jennifer Bicego of Lansing allegedly obtained a prescription pad from a doctor’s office where she had previously worked.

They say nine other people took the fake prescriptions to Lansing area pharmacies to obtain pills and several of those fake prescriptions were billed to Medicaid.

Arrested and charged are:

Jennifer Bicego, 30, of Lansing:
• Five counts of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
• Six counts of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substance – Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years, or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.
• Two counts of Controlled Substance -Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Luke Gutkowski, 22, of Mason:
• One count of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.
• One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Dustin Fritz, 20, of Lansing:
• One count of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.
• One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Trisha Burkett, 20, of Mason:
• One count of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
• One count of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
• One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Jona Lafferty, 20, of Vernon:
• One count of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
• One count of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
• One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Lance Roe, 33, of Holt:
• One count of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
• One count of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
• One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, contrary to MCL 333.7407(1)(c), a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.
• Roe will be charged as a Habitual Fourth Offender.

Charles Loveall, 34, of Holt:
• Two counts of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
• One count of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
• Three counts of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.
• Three counts of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Brandon Madden, 32, of Charlotte:
• Two counts of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.
• Two counts of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Andrew Pell, 31, of East Lansing:
• One count of Conspiracy to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00 or both.
• One count of Attempt to Commit Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of not more than two years, or up to one year in a county jail, or $1,000.00.
• Pell will be charged as a Habitual Second Offender.

Rachel Vito, 27, of Lansing:
• One count of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
• One count of Medicaid Fraud-False Claim, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or both.
• One count of Controlled Substances-Obtaining by Fraud, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00 or both.

Bicego’s bond was set at $50,000. Bond was set at $25,000 for the other nine.

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