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Tampa pharmacist convicted of filling illegal Oxycodone prescriptions

Published Dec. 13, 2012

TAMPA — A Tampa pharmacist who filled illegal prescriptions for 50,000 oxycodone pills in less than a year was convicted Tuesday by a federal jury of conspiring to distribute a controlled substance.

Emmanuel L. Mekowulu, 56, who was the pharmacist and owner of Felky Pharmacy on N Florida Avenue, faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced March 11, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Wednesday.

From June 2008 through March 2009, prosecutors said, Mekowulu worked with the owners of Neurology & Pain Center clinics to fill 340 prescriptions for painkillers written by the clinics' co-owner, Dr. Jeffrey Friedlander. The clinics were located in several cities, including Tampa, Orlando and Lakeland.

Friedlander would sign blank prescriptions that were filled by Mekowulu and contained the names of 60 people, including clinic employees and patients who did not know prescriptions were being written in their name and did not require painkillers, prosecutors said.

The pills were then sold in the Tampa Bay area, court documents show.

Also involved in the scheme was Friedlander's partner in the clinics, physician's assistant Troy Wubbena, and an employee, Brett Ridenour, prosecutors said.

Ridenour and Wubbena had previously pleaded guilty for their part in the scheme and testified against Mekowulu. Wubbena was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Ridenour was sentenced to five years.

Friedlander also previously pleaded guilty to charges and is serving a nine-year prison sentence.