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Heights police probe leads to Rx forgery prison term

by Kevin Olsen
staff reporter

A 68-year-old Worth man was sentenced to 3½  years in prison last Thursday after he was convicted of fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs throughout the area earlier this year.

James Valentine was arrested on June 16 following an investigation by Palos Heights police. After he was taken into custody, it was learned he was perpetrating the same fraud throughout Chicago area pharmacies.

Valentine was sentenced to 42 months in prison for forgery, a Class 3 felony, and 36 months in prison for unlawful acquisition of a controlled substance, a Class 4 felony. The terms will be served concurrently. Valentine had an extensive criminal history including a 2009 arrest in Elmhurst for illegal possession of prescription form and obtain substance by fraud.

Palos Heights police were investigating a report of a prescrip- tion drug fraud scheme at Jewel-Osco. The DEA Tactical Diversion Squad and DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office joined the investigation after evidence was gathered indicating Valentine was illegally distributing prescription controlled substances from his residence in Worth including hydrocodone (Norco and Vicodin) and Alprazolam (Xanax).

The Osco employee said the man drew a red flag when he said he did not have insurance and would be paying in cash, according to the police report. She only filled half the order and told him to come back at a later time. He never returned, Palos Heights police Detective Gerard Wodka said.

Police cross referenced the phone numbers on the fraudulent prescriptions and learned that doctors had not ordered the prescriptions. Valentine’s name and phone number were also on the paper. Surveillance footage identified a man that looked like Valentine passing the fraudulent prescription. Wodka said he used generated copies of a real prescription to deceive pharmacies.

Police set up surveillance and witnessed Valentine sell the prescription drugs to other people out of his apartment. After he was arrested, police reported to the DEA who said the man had been using false prescriptions all over the city.

Valentine created fraudulent prescriptions by using the names of legitimate doctors, unbeknownst to the doctors, as well as valid DEA Registration numbers, according to the DEA. Valentine would write the prescriptions in the name of fictitious individuals. Interviews with various doctors determined the prescriptions were fraudulent.

During the hearing, Judge Kath-ryn E. Creswell said an aggravating factor in the sentencing was that some of the controlled substances sold by Valentine were sold to individuals who ultimately sold the drugs to high school students.

“There are more nationwide overdoes deaths from prescription drugs abuse than from cocaine and heroin abuse combined,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Jack Riley said. “Prescription drugs are extremely dangerous when used by those a licensed physician did not medically evaluate and prescribe the drugs to, when used in non-prescribed dosage amounts, and in interaction with other drugs and alcohol.”

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