Illegal prescription drug operation suspects convicted

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The owner and managing physician of an online prescription drug operation were convicted in federal court Thursday.

The federal indictment was initially filed in 2007 against Alvin Woody, Kathleen Giacobbe, Porfirio Orta-Rosario, Stephen Giacobbe and Christopher Otiko.

Woody owns and operates pharmacies in Denver and Mooresville.  In July of 2008, Woody entered a guilty plea to charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and money laundering.  Woody and Stephen Giacobbe were sentenced earlier this year.

On Thursday, Kathleen Giacobbe of Vermont was convicted on one count to distributed controlled substances and 38 separate counts of distributing controlled substances.

Porfirio Orta-Rosario of Wisconsin was convicted on one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and 50 separate counts of distributing controlled substances.

According to the US Attorney's office, Giacobbe and Orta-Rosario conspired with one another and others to distribute prescription painkillers and anti-anxiety medications to customers throughout the country based on what were purported to be prescriptions that were faxed to Woody's Pharmacy by

The prescriptions were actually drug orders with a doctor's photocopied signature based on a telephone "interview" with a customer.  These interviews were generally conducted by people with no training or authority to write prescriptions the US Attorney's Office said.

As a result of this prescription drug operation, millions of dosage units of powerful and addictive controlled substances, primarily hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin) and alprazolam (e.g., Xanax), were distributed to thousands of customers nationwide out of Woody's Pharmacy.

Giacobbe and Orta-Rosario remain free on bond.  They could face sentences of up to five years in prison on each count on which they were found guilty.