NEW PORT RICHEY — Edward Beckles, the 59-year-old owner and operator of Ed's Family Friendly Pharmacy, is accused of being a bit too friendly with some of his customers — providing prescription pills to at least two drug rings and, allegedly, accepting sex as payment.
Criminals "knew they could go to that pharmacy and there would be no questions asked," said Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco.
Beckles, whose business is at 4158 Rowan Road in New Port Richey, has been the focus of an investigation by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration. He was indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone and possession with intent to distribute oxycodone while acting outside the course of professional practice, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Monday.
If convicted, Beckles faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each charge, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Beckles, of Wesley Chapel, has no criminal history in Florida and his pharmacy license is clear and active, records state. His license was originally issued in 1995 but, authorities say, he began filing fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone beginning in 2009.
Nocco said Beckles filled the prescriptions for two drug rings that were buying pills in Pasco and shipping thousands of them to Tennessee and Kentucky, where they have a much higher street value. Since November, at least four dozen people accused of funneling the pills have been arrested on federal drug charges. At the center of one ring was the Humphrey family, led by Kathy Alvarez-Humphrey, 52, of Hudson, authorities said. The nearly three-year-long investigation into the rings began when a Pasco deputy found oxycodone pills in a car during a traffic stop and started searching to find out where the person had gotten the pills.
Nocco said that by Beckles accepting false prescriptions, "there is not much of a difference between what he was doing and somebody on a street corner."
Nocco said Beckles was said to have been accepting sex from patrons as payment for doling out pills, but he has not been charged with those accusations. Beckles was released from custody Monday on $50,000 bail and had to surrender his passport, authorities said. His wife, Angela Beckles, is listed as the vice president of their company, EB Drugs, Inc. The couple was not able to be reached Monday.
Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.