October 25, 2014

Elyria
Partly cloudy with showers
58°F
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Owner says nothing illegal was going on at Lorain pharmacy

LORAIN — A co-owner of Southside Pharmacy, one of two Lorain County pharmacies raided by state and federal law enforcement in May, defended his business Tuesday from accusations it served as a hub of drug trafficking and money laundering.

“I know that nothing illegal is happening at Southside,” Sbeih Sbeih said.

Neither Sbeih nor fellow pharmacist Osama Salouha, who shares ownership of Southside in Lorain with him, has been charged with a crime. Sbeih said the pharmacy reopened shortly after being raided in May by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service.

But federal officials have filed a civil lawsuit seeking to force the forfeiture of nearly $2.3 million in bank deposits and cash, as well as three cars and two homes that they contend are part of a scheme to sell painkillers at Southside and the Medicine Center Pharmacy in Elyria, which is owned solely by Salouha.

The two pharmacists allegedly moved money between 20 different bank accounts, including to banks in the Middle East, as part of a money laundering effort, according to federal prosecutors.

Court documents filed last week stated that Southside was buying and selling hundreds of thousands of painkillers each year, according to an audit performed on the pharmacy.

Prosecutors compared the number of painkillers purchased by Southside over the past few years to those purchased by the main campus of the Cleveland Clinic. For example, Southside purchased 581,800 tablets of the powerful painkiller oxycodone in 2012. The clinic’s main campus purchased 261,440 tablets of the drug last year, according to the court documents.

Sbeih said it was unfair to compare his small neighborhood pharmacy to a hospital pharmacy because they serve different clienteles.

“We fill over 400 prescriptions a day at Southside, and we have thousands of customers,” Sbeih said.

Federal officials have declined to discuss the investigation into the two pharmacies, both of which reopened after the raids.

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


  • Bob Sweatt

    Yeah yeah. Nothing illegal going on. Funny that’s what the guys who own Shopway said. Ask them how that worked out for them.

  • K Gi

    Small pharmacy…. 581,000 Oxy Contin pills. Yeah, nothing was going on there….

    To prescribe that amount of painkillers, they would have had to given out well over 80,000 prescriptions in a year’s time for them, which you KNOW didn’t happen. Most doctors won’t prescribe large amounts of Oxy Contins because they are HIGHLY addictive (obviously). They need to fess up and admit that they were illegally selling them.

  • Birdman

    I know alot of people getting there stuff from these two spots. Illegally.

  • reach1teach1

    Southside vs. Cleveland Clinic = Southside’s hands caught in the cookie jar! Greed overloaded your pants!!! LMAO
    Southside resident get out of my neighborhood

  • Tamra Tury

    If they are guilty they should be jailed for life along with the Doctors who wrote the scripts!

    40 odd years and more money than you can ever imagine wasted on a war against Marijuana and not one death caused by it on the books..ever!
    Meanwhile the Drug Companies make billion$$ by turning people into addicts and nothing is done about it…go figure! The rich get richer and the poor get sicker!
    Abuse of prescription drugs is the REAL drug problem in our community and it needs to be dealt with NOW! The sad part is that the addicts will look elsewhere to get their fix, which often leads to heroin use when they can’t find or afford the ‘Legal’ drugs. Sad sad sad!

    • jz

      Your observations are correct. And it is the Drug War which precipitates these scenarios. A war against our own people which causes more harm than the use or abuse of these drugs. Drug abuse is bad the Drug War is worse. Abandon the law enforcement approach and make it strictly a medical issue which it is at its heart anyway.

  • ken m

    the owners names say it all, most likely got a business loan we paid for to purchase these stores, over here on work visa s …….well they ve bought all the 7 11 stores,most gas stations,dunkin d, so I guess medical stores are next….