October 23, 2014

Elyria
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Feds raid pharmacies in Elyria and Lorain

ELYRIA — Federal officials are refusing to discuss the reasons behind raids at two popular discount pharmacies in Elyria and Lorain that shut down the businesses Thursday.

CT photo by Brad Dicken.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Denise Foster, who supervises a task force assigned to deal with prescription drug abuse, including pill mills, declined to discuss exactly what was being investigated at the Medicine Center Pharmacy on Cleveland Street in Elyria and Southside Pharmacy on Fulton Road in Lorain.

She said the raids were part of a long-running investigation, but that the search warrants have been sealed. No charges appear to have been filed in the case.

A location in Strongsville also was reportedly searched Thursday as part of the investigation, but Foster said she couldn’t confirm or deny that.

Customer Jamie Casey said she was inside the Medicine Center in Elyria waiting to get a prescription filled when law enforcement entered the store around 9 a.m. and asked if she was carrying any weapons. After determining she was unarmed, agents escorted Casey and the pharmacist working at the store outside.

“They didn’t say anything,” Casey said when asked if the agents said what they were investigating.

She said she’s been getting prescriptions filled at Southside for some time and recently switched over to the Elyria location. Both are run by the same person, Sam Salouha, whom state records indicate is a pharmacist in good standing.
Casey said she’s never noticed anything amiss in the store.

“They’re very strict about the way they fill prescriptions,” she said. “They don’t fill them early.”

In addition to the DEA, agents from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy and the Lorain County Drug Task Force were involved in the raids.

Elyria police Capt. Chris Costantino said two Elyria police detectives were asked to go on the raid, but weren’t really involved in the investigation.

An agent on the scene Thursday morning referred questions to an IRS spokesman.

The spokesman, IRS Special Agent Dan Dever, said he could not discuss the case.

“We’re on official business,” Dever said.

The Elyria location remained closed throughout the day.

A woman who answered the phone at the Southside Pharmacy on Thursday afternoon said it wasn’t a good time and to call back later. The store closed for the day about 15 minutes later, according to a voicemail message that said the location would reopen for regular business hours today.

Salouha did not return calls seeking comment.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.