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Pharmacist charged with phony prescriptions

Police arrested a Tampa pharmacist Tuesday morning and charged him with prescription fraud and trafficking in Vicodin.

Ronald Nathanson, 49, of 5804 Lady Bug Court, remained in jail Tuesday without bail. Police charged Nathanson with two counts of trafficking in hydrocodone and 34 counts of obtaining the controlled substance by fraud.

Doctors usually prescribe Vicodin, or hydrocodone, to control pain. Hydrocodone is considered to be as potent as morphine, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which lists hydrocodone as one of its "drugs and chemicals of concern" because of its potential for abuse.

According to a police report, Tampa police detectives were notified in November that a pharmacist had been regularly taking home drugs. The Tampa DEA Diversion Group investigated and discovered prescriptions of Vicodin were being filled for a fictitious customer, the report said.

Detectives searched pharmacy records at the Eckerd Drugs at 8225 N Florida Ave. and found several occasions in which hydrocodone prescriptions, under a made-up name, were paid for and taken home by the pharmacist, according to a police report.

Detectives also checked records at the Kash n' Karry pharmacy at 5320 Ehrlich Road, where Nathanson used to work. Police said they found similar unauthorized prescription transactions there.

Charges: Man threatened mom, torched their home

TAMPA _ A Lithia man is charged with arson as the result of a fire Thursday that destroyed the mobile home he shared with his 78-year-old mother.

Fire investigators say two people saw Jerry Wayne Ryals, 47, run from the fire, and his car was found at the scene. Police dogs found him hiding in woods a few hours later.

Police also charged Ryals with assault, saying he threatened his mother, Frances Ryals, earlier that afternoon. "One of us is gonna die tonight," Jerry Ryals said, according to an arrest affidavit.

Frances Ryals was not home at the time of the fire. Investigators said she was frightened by her son's threats and fled to stay with friends.

Damage to the mobile home, its contents and a nearby pickup truck was estimated at $40,000.