Harford pharmacy owner indicted in illegal prescription scheme


A Harford County grand jury has indicted the owner of a Havre de Grace pharmacy on charges that he conspired with a 78-year-old doctor to distribute prescription drugs illegally.

The 10-count indictment released yesterday charged that pharmacist Dominic Robert Gasdia, 44, of Perryman, filled prescriptions written by Dr. Edward John Simon, who pleaded guilty Aug. 2 to one count of illegally distributing diazepam, a form of Valium.

Dr. Simon, of the 3900 block of Somerset Court in Havre de Grace, was placed on one year's probation and fined $5,000, court records showed. He surrendered his state medical license last year amid allegations he was illegally dispensing prescription drugs.

Dr. Simon had practiced family medicine for 51 years from a tiny office in the 500 block of Bourbon St., about five blocks from Mr. Gasdia's City Pharmacy in the 300 block of N. Union Ave.

Mr. Gasdia, the indictment alleged, unlawfully distributed prescription tranquilizers and painkillers from his pharmacy between March and October in 1993.

Undercover narcotics officers raided Dr. Simon's office, home and City Pharmacy on Oct. 5, 1993, ending a six-month investigation that began when citizens complained that known drug users were visiting Dr. Simon's office and then going immediately to Mr. Gasdia's pharmacy to have the prescriptions filled.

Investigators said undercover officers paid $20 to Dr. Simon for an office visit, and that he prescribed the medication they asked for without conducting an examination or taking a medical history.

The officers said that they then went to City Pharmacy, where the prescriptions were filled without delay.

Sgt. Henry Bowker of the Drug Enforcement Division Unit of the Maryland State Police said after the raid that City Pharmacy was dispensing a volume of Valium, Xanax and Lortabs that exceeded the volume of four other Havre de Grace pharmacies by as much as 10-to-1 over a six-month period.

At the time of the raid, Mr. Gasdia said Dr. Simon's ties to City Pharmacy went back to the beginning of the former physician's practice, and that it was not unusual for Dr. Simon's patients to come to his pharmacy to have their prescriptions filled.

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