Police: Pair forged prescriptions

Two people face a laundry list of charges for allegedly calling in bogus prescriptions over a seven month span.

Amber N. Bryant, 34, of 271 Pennington Road, Tyrone, and Keith A. Baughman, 1329 Spring Run Road, are accused by Altoona police of calling in and picking up fraudulent Vicodin prescriptions at four Blair County pharmacies, a scheme police said was made possible because Bryant worked at a doctor’s office where Baughman, her ex-boyfriend, was a patient.

It started in August 2012 when Baughman had surgery at Blair Surgical Associates in Altoona, where Bryant had been a longtime employee, Altoona police said. After Baughman’s surgery, Bryant allegedly used her position to call in prescriptions for the pain killer to pharmacies, ordering between 20 and 120 pills at a time.

Police indicate the pair got pills a total of 33 times between August 2012 and April 2013, when a doctor found paper evidence of the scam in a recycled paper bin in the office. Investigators said Bryant had 14 prescriptions for Vicodin filled in her name while 19 prescriptions were done in Baughman’s name. When questioned by police, Bryant allegedly admitted to calling in the bogus prescriptions and said she was pressured by Baughman, an ex-paramour. Bryant told police Baughman said he needed the pills for back pain and when police called Baughman he claimed he wasn’t aware of any fraud.

“All I can tell you is that I thought those prescriptions were legit,” Baughman allegedly told Altoona police when contacted by phone April 30. “She was getting them for my back.”

Police said Baughman said he would call investigators the next day but never did. Instead, Baughman’s attorney, Mark Zearfaus, called police May 6 to say his client would not be making any statement.

Zearfaus declined to comment on the case when contacted Monday by The Mirror.

UPMC is also seeking restitution for the cost of the drug, some $223, since the pair allegedly acquired the pills through their health care plan, police said.

In all, Bryant and Baughman each face 100 charges, including 71 felony counts. Both remain free, each on a unsecured $20,000 bond, with preliminary hearings scheduled for Wednesday at Central Court.