Two Men Arraigned in Connection with Using Stolen Identities, Forging Doctors' Prescriptions in Order to Obtain Drugs
John Tropea, age 57, of Franklin, was arraigned on charges of Identity Fraud (49 counts), Obtaining Drugs by Fraud (49counts), and Conspiracy (4 counts). Keith Huguenin, age 33, of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, was arraigned on charges of Identity Fraud (3 counts), Conspiracy (4 counts), and Obtaining Drugs by Fraud (3 counts).
The co-defendants were previously arraigned on related charges in Suffolk and Plymouth Counties.
In June 2010, the Attorney General's Office began an investigation into the men's activities after the matter was initially investigated and referred by the Millbury Police Department. Authorities allege that from May 2009 to October 2009, Tropea conspired with Huguenin to steal the identities of dozens of individuals in six counties throughout the state, and used those identities to obtain prescription drugs. Investigators discovered that Tropea, with help from Huguenin, would write fraudulent prescriptions from a doctor's pad that Tropea had stolen from a physician he had seen for a prior medical condition. Authorities allege that Tropea would then go into various pharmacies and present these forged documents as legitimate prescriptions and receive drugs such as Hydrocodone (the generic form of Vicoden) and other prescription drugs. In many cases Tropea and Huguenin allegedly submitted the prescriptions with health insurance information, also stolen from various individuals. In turn, health insurance companies would pay for the prescriptions.
A Statewide Grand Jury returned indictments against both Tropea and Huguenin on April 25, 2011. Tropea and Huguenin were arraigned yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court at which time the defendants entered individual pleas of not guilty and were released on personal recognizance. The defendants will be back in court on November 3, 2011, for a pre-trial conference. Clerk Magistrate Gary Wilson presided over the arraignment.
Tropea had previously been arraigned on May 24, 2011 in Suffolk Superior Court on charges of Filing a False Health Care Claim (5 counts), Obtaining Drugs by Fraud (2 counts), Identity Fraud and Conspiracy. Huguenin was also arraigned on May 24, in Suffolk Superior Court on charges of Conspiracy and Filing a False Health Care Claim.
The co-defendants were arraigned in Plymouth Superior Court on August 26, 2011 on charges also associated with this case. Tropea was arraigned on charges of Conspiracy, Obtaining Drugs by Fraud and Identity Fraud. Huguenin was arraigned on the charge of Conspiracy.
These charges are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Margret Cooke, Chief of AG Coakley's Fraud and Financial Crimes Division and was investigated by Investigators Rose Bagalawis and Tracey Wetterlow of AG Coakley's Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division. The initial investigation was conducted by the Millbury Police Department. AG Coakley's Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division works to protect consumers and the integrity of the insurance system by investigating and prosecuting those who commit fraud against all types of insurers, including the Commonwealth's unemployment insurance and workers' compensation system. The prosecution of insurance fraud helps prevent the increase in premiums and taxes that are the result of fraudulent insurance claims.