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Local pharmacist illegally distributed narcotics, officials said

A Johnstown pharmacist has been indicted by a federal grand jury for distributing narcotics, according to a report. (WJAC)

A Johnstown pharmacist has been indicted by a federal grand jury for distributing narcotics, according to a report.

Joseph Martella, owner of Martella’s Pharmacy, was indicted Tuesday on 108 counts involving the illegal distribution of narcotics.

According to Martella’s website, the pharmacy operates across five locations spanning Cambria and Somerset counties.

Documents show Martella filled prescriptions that were prescribed by Dr. Peter Ridella.

Those prescriptions included a mixture of oxycodone and acetaminophen, also know as Percocet; a mixture of acetaminophen and hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin; and other Schedule II substances, according to documents.

Schedule II means a drug or substance has a high potential for abuse.

According to documents, all of the controlled substances were given to a person known to the grand jury as "J.R." outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.

Ridella pleaded guilty in June after being charged with illegally distributing pain medication and health care fraud.

Investigators said he illegally prescribed oxycodone and Percocet while submitting fraudulent claims to Highmark, a healthcare insurance company, to cover the costs of the illegal prescriptions.

Ridella was scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday. He is facing up to 30 years in prison and over $1 million in fines.

Ridella's attorney told the Tribune Democrat in June that he was writing the prescriptions for his son, who had an opioid addiction.

The grand jury indictment said Martella faces charges for knowingly conspiring to illegally distribute drugs, including oxycodone, Percocet, and Vicodin, between 2013 and 2016.

Martella has pleaded not guilty and was released on $10,000 bond.

Martella's Pharmacy on Franklin Street released the following statement:

Martella's Pharmacy on Franklin Street, which has been serving the community for the past 54 years was surprised to learn that they were part of an investigation and charges were filed. We have fully cooperated with authorities in this matter and we are confident that the charges will ultimately be dismissed. Martella's Pharmacy operations will be unaffected while we address these charges.

You can read the full list of grand jury charges here.


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