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Former police officer charged with running prescription drug ring

| Thursday, March 13, 2014, 4:34 p.m.
A state grand jury has indicted Mark W. Fisher, 34, of Irwin for allegedly running a prescription drug distribution ring since 2007.

A former Allegheny County police officer, jailed in Westmoreland County on charges of impersonating a police officer, was charged on Thursday with running a prescription drug ring.

A state grand jury accused Mark Fisher, 34, of Irwin, who worked as a police officer in Swissvale and Turtle Creek, of directing an illegal prescription drug ring from 2007 to 2011. The participants sold drugs in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, the grand jury said.

Fisher developed an addiction to pain medication since an undisclosed injury in 2007 and recruited several people to help distribute prescription pain narcotics, Attorney General Kathleen Kane said.

Kane said she anticipates additional arrests.

Fisher eventually stopped using others and began to pass illegal prescriptions at pharmacies, written in his name or his wife's, Kane said.

Fisher and his wife became patients of a Westmoreland County doctor who gave Mark Fisher prescriptions for the painkiller Roxicodone and a sedative, Ambien, the grand jury said. The couple then became “social friends” of the doctor, according to the grand jury.

Fisher is charged with acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge; possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; conspiracy; and impersonating a public servant.

In 2011, authorities charged Fisher with attempting to illegally forge prescriptions from the Westmoreland County doctor's office. Fisher claimed he needed blank prescription pads for his work as an undercover officer, police said.

The doctor's cousin, who worked in the office, told the grand jury that he telephoned police about “obviously forged documents purporting to be from the Turtle Creek Police Department and Mark Fisher.”

Authorities said Fisher no longer was an officer when he attempted to obtain the forms. State police arrested him in Greensburg on charges of impersonating an officer, theft by deception and receiving stolen property.

Online court records show Fisher was expected to plead guilty to those charges in January but did not appear for the hearing.

Westmoreland County Judge Rita Hathaway issued a warrant for his arrest. He has been held in the county prison since Friday.

A witness told the grand jury that Fisher's drug distribution crew sometimes met him “while Fisher was in a police uniform in a patrol car” and that he would provide them with prescription forms to obtain painkillers.

Pennsylvania has the 14th-highest rate of drug overdoses in the nation. Most are caused by prescription drugs.

Paul Peirce is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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