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Former Pharmacy Tech and Husband Charged with Embezzling 40,000 Vicodin Tablets from Local CVS to Sell on Street
HOLLISTER - Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that a former CVS pharmacy technician and her husband have been charged with 15 felony counts after the woman embezzled tens of thousands of highly addictive prescription pills worth $400,000 from her employer to supply to her drug-dealing husband.
Aimee and Alfred Riaski, both 41 and from Hollister, were arrested after an investigation by Brown’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement led to the recovery of more than 1,500 prescription tablets at the couple’s residence. If convicted, Aimee Riaski faces a maximum of 13 years, 8 months in jail and Alfred Riaski faces a maximum of 8 years, 4 months in jail.
“The Riaskis crafted a crude scheme to embezzle highly addictive pain pills from a neighborhood pharmacy and sell them at a profit on the streets,” Brown said. “Today’s criminal charges send a clear reminder to pill pushers that selling prescription drugs can lead to serious time behind bars.”
Brown’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement initiated its investigation into Aimee Riaski in February after an internal pharmacy audit at a Gilroy CVS revealed tens of thousands of missing prescription-drug tablets.
As a CVS pharmacy technician, Aimee Riaski was responsible for tracking the delivery of various prescription drugs. In this role, Riaski admitted to a CVS loss-prevention officer that she stole some 40,000 Vicodin (Hydrocodone) tablets over a 10-month period beginning in early 2009.
On February 19, Brown’s office served a search warrant at the Riaski residence in Hollister and recovered prescription drugs worth almost $17,000, including:
• 1,134 Vicodin tablets
• 305 Diazepam tablets
• 212 Darvon tablets
• 62 Ativan tablets
• 9 Lidocaine patches
The complaint, filed today by the San Benito District Attorney, alleges that the Riaskis embezzled, possessed, transported, and planned to sell thousands of highly addictive prescription drugs on the streets.
Aimee Riaski was charged with ten felony counts including: five counts of possession for sale of a controlled substance (H&S 11351(a) and H&S 11375(b)(1)); four counts of transporting a controlled substance (H&S 11352(a)); and one count of embezzlement (PC 504).
Alfred Riaski was charged with five felony counts of possession for sale of a controlled substance (H&S 11351(a) and H&S 11375(b)(1)) and one misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property (PC 496 (a)).
Aimee and Alfred Riaski, who were originally arrested in February, posted $30,000 and $20,000 bail, respectively. Both defendants pleaded not-guilty in court today.
Brown has made combating prescription-drug abuse a top priority by investigating and filing charges in more than 200 cases against physicians who have abused their trust, prescription-drug dealers who have peddled highly addictive pills and patients who have attained drugs by “doctor shopping” from doctor to doctor.
Last month, for example, Brown announced the arrest of a San Diego-based doctor, Mohammed Kady, who regularly prescribed pain medication, including Vicodin and codeine cough syrups to drug addicts and pill pushers without any justifiable medical purpose.
Brown’s office is also currently investigating a Southern California prescription-drug ring that operates by ordering prescription-drug pads from authorized vendors and using identities stolen from doctors. The pads are then either sold on the street to prescription-drug addicts or to individuals who are paid to fill the prescription and then sell the drugs on the underground market. The investigation has thus far linked 4,500 to 5,000 fraudulent prescriptions to the fraud ring and has led to one arrest.
California is at the forefront of technology that makes it more difficult for criminals to operate prescription- drug rings. Brown’s office has introduced significant technology upgrades to the state’s prescription- monitoring program, known as CURES, by creating an accessible, online database. The database is a critical tool in assisting law enforcement investigations. For more information on CURES visit: http://ag.ca.gov/bne/CURES.php.
The criminal complaints, filed today in San Benito County Superior Court, are attached.