Federal authorities seized nearly $2.3 million in bank deposits and cash, as well as three cars and two homes as part of their investigation into drug trafficking and money laundering at two discount pharmacies in Elyria and Lorain that were raided in May, according to documents filed in federal court last week.
Federal and state officials shut down the Medicine Center Pharmacy on Cleveland Street in Elyria and the Southside Pharmacy on Fulton Road in Lorain, but federal officials have not disclosed the reasons for the raids other than to say they were part of a long-running investigation.
The court documents accuse the licensed pharmacists who ran the businesses of illegally selling large quantities of prescription painkillers such as Oxycodone and laundering their proceeds through a variety of bank accounts.
Southside, which opened in 2007, was owned and operated by Osama Salouha and Sbeih Sbeih, while the Medicine Center, which opened in 2012, was owned by Salouha, the documents said.
According to an audit of drugs purchased by the pharmacies, they were doing a brisk business in painkillers.
For instance, at Southside, which federal prosecutors noted occupied about a third of a former gas station, purchased 581,800 tablets of Oxycodone in 2012 compared to 261,440 tablets of the painkiller that were purchased by the pharmacy at the main campus of the Cleveland Clinic.
That same year, the clinic main campus bought 4,080 tablets of Oxymorphone while Southside purchased 44,500 tablets, the audit showed. Southside also bought 360,800 tablets of Hydrocodone in 2012, while the clinic’s main campus bought 75,600 tablets of the drug.
Purchases by Southside for the three painkillers were similarly lopsided when compared to the clinic in 2011 and 2010, the audit showed.
Prosecutors wrote that the Medicine Center’s 2012 and 2013 “purchases of these three drugs, which are highly abused controlled substances, are not consistent with the opening of a new pharmacy.”
Between 2007 and 2011, Southside had total deposits of nearly $22.8 million that flowed through the personal and business accounts of Salouha and Sbeih, prosecutors wrote.
In total prosecutors contend there are 20 accounts, including three opened in the names of Salouha’s young children, that were used in an attempt to launder the money made from the illicit sale of the painkillers. Prosecutors wrote that money also was transferred to banks in Palestine and Abu Dhabi.
Salouha also purchased a 2012 Toyota Sienna, a 2012 Toyota Camry and a 2013 Lexus LX 570 and held a mortgage on a Strongsville home, all of which prosecutors want to be forfeited. They also want to keep Sbeih’s North Olmsted home.
Salouha and Sbeih have not been charged, federal court records show. Mike Tobin, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney for Northern Ohio Steven Dettelbach, declined to comment on the case Monday.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.