Suspended pharmacist charged with fraud

A Salem pharmacist was charged Thursday with federal crimes for working as a pharmacist despite having his license revoked in 2003 for stealing hundreds of medications including anabolic steroids, which he abused.

Bruce E. Franken, 52, was charged in a bill of information in U.S. District Court in Cleveland with health care fraud.

Franken waived his right for a grand jury to review, records say.

Franken worked as a pharmacist from May 14, 2009 to July 14, 2011 at J.H. Lease Pharmacy at 229 N. Ellsworth Ave. despite being barred by the state in 2003 from practicing, charges say.

Medicaid paid for $301,550 worth of prescriptions billed by Franken, prosecutors allege.

Records from the state Board of Pharmacy says he was suspended in 2000 but appealed part of the decision. He was officially suspended April 7, 2003 and barred from practicing as a pharmacist for 10 years.

The suspension order says Franken was caught stealing 30 tablets of Viagra between Jan. 27, 2000 and March 8, 2000.

An investigation revealed Franken stole 443 doses of medication between Oct. 17, 1994 and Aug. 16, 2000.

Some of the medication, such as Celebrex and Claratin were normal prescriptions. Others he stole included anabolic steroids.

The suspension order says Franken abused steroids without valid prescriptions, which “caused fits of rage and other lapses in judgment.”

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