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Westmoreland

Former Excela doctor admits to writing himself bogus painkiller prescriptions

Rich Cholodofsky
| Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, 3:27 p.m.
Dr. Ralph Capone, of Greensburg, makes his way into District Judge Mark Mansour’s office, on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Dr. Ralph Capone, of Greensburg, makes his way into District Judge Mark Mansour’s office, on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017.

A Hempfield doctor pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that he illegally wrote drug prescriptions for his personal use.

Dr. Ralph Capone, 65, the former chief medical officer at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital, was charged last year with 23 counts following a state investigation that started with an anonymous tip to the federally monitored 411 drug tip line.

Investigators said Capone from 2014 through his arrest last October wrote more than 300 prescriptions for hydrocodone and other pain killers using the names of family members, including his children, wife and mother, to receive the medication for his personal use. The fraudulent prescriptions were supplied to pharmacies in Greensburg, Hempfield and Jeannette, authorities said.

In court on Tuesday, Capone pleaded guilty to four consolidated counts, including three drug offenses and identity theft. He will be sentenced Oct. 25 by Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio.

“These kinds of illegal diversions of prescription drugs are fueling the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania. We will continue to prosecute anyone who illegally abuses prescription drugs, including doctors and other health care professions,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Capone is free on bail pending his sentencing. He most recently operated a private medical practice in North Huntingdon.

He served as chief medical officer at Excela Health from 2007 to 2009. Before that, he was medical director of the now-defunct Jeannette District Memorial Hospital from 1996 to 2003.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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