By David Madden, Jenn Bernstein
MEDIA, Pa. (CBS) — An elderly Landsdowne, Pa. physician has been charged with running a narcotics “pill mill” out of his home office for years.
Dr. Lenwood Wert, 79, is charged with two serious offenses – 536 counts of sale of a prescription to a drug dependent persons, and 546 counts of administering a prescription that’s not medically necessary, according to the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office.
It took a county heroin task force to muster the effort needed to look into what Dr. Lenwood Wert was allegedly doing, although locals suspected him for more than a decade.
He is accused of having taken cash only for visits (at $100 a pop), seen patients for only a few seconds, and handed out prescriptions for popular narcotics virtually on request.
Dr. Wert – a licensed osteopathic physician and surgeon – is accused of carelessly writing prescriptions for hardcore pain medicine like Oxycodone with only a hasty examination.
The District Attorney’s Office alleges some patients even got prescriptions without one.
According to two undercover officers, Dr. Wert turned away people who wanted to use their medical insurance, and charged cash – $150 dollars for the first visit, and $100 dollars after that.
“Dr. Wert is no different than an individual standing on the corner. In fact it’s worse because he’s doing so under the guise of his medical license,” Delaware County DA Jack Whelan said today.
The undercover officers also said Dr. Wert’s office was filled with patients who were drug abusers.
During a search warrant of Dr. Wert’s home and practice in March, authorities seized $500,000 in cash, which was dispersed in boxes, tins and safes.
Whelan said officers also took out shotguns, handguns, and magazines.
Diane Steininger’s family lives right across the street, “[we’re] very concerned about that. Thank god, hopefully it’s over.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration has revoked Dr. Wert’s license to write prescriptions but for now, he still has his medical license.
Eyewitness News knocked on Dr. Wert’s home and office seeking comment, but was turned away by a man who answered the door, who was not Dr. Wert.
Wert is scheduled for a preliminary hearing next week on more than 500 drug counts. He is currently free on $500,000 unsecured bail.