By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
According to a press release on Thursday, February 7 by the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Pennsylvania, fourteen physicians were indicted in a multitude of crimes including “conspiracy to dispense and distribute controlled substances outside the course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose; distribution of oxycodone; health care fraud; and maintaining a drug-involved premises”. U.S. District Attorney William McSwain noted in a press release that this resulted in a multi-unit coordinated investigation in their respected district in attempt to control the ongoing opioid epidemic.
Among those charged is Dr. Frederick Reichle, 86, of Warrington, Pa. employee of AUC (a medical business), who also happens to be the co-owner of Timberline and uncle of co-owner and manager Fred Herz. According to the press release, the first charge against Reichle and others involve maintaining drug-involved premises. The doctors and physicians assistants of AUC allegedly offered a “pain management” program to the public. In this program they (for a fee ranging from $40-$140) unlawfully prescribed opioids daily from January 2014 through August 2017. Those accused dismissed abusive signs in their patients which should have been evident through routine urine test results. The press release stated the urine tests resulted in positive results of illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine as well as positive traces of Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addictions. In some cases, no drug traces were detected at all, indicating the individuals prescribed these pills have been selling them. According to this indictment, there were at minimum 3,678 prescriptions administered illegally, which could amount to hundreds of thousands of opioid painkillers, by these AUC doctors and physician assistants, including Reichle. Attorney McSwain was quoted saying “As alleged in these indictments, thousands of illegally prescribed pills flooded our streets because of the conduct of these defendants. My Office will continue to do its part to enforce our nation’s drug laws and hold physicians, physician’s assistants, and their agents accountable. As these indictments show, medical professionals who violate their oaths and exploit their patients’ addictions to make an easy buck will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The second charge against Reichle and another physician, Dr. Soss, is for conspiracy to distribute and dispense oxycodone outside the usual course of practice and not for legitimate medical purpose. As this indictment reads, Reichle was hired by Soss after his own medical license was revoked in the state of Pennsylvania in 2017. The intention was for Reichle to write the prescriptions for Soss’s “pain management patients” in his stead. It continues to state Soss and Reichle allegedly charged upwards of $2,500 for a new patient to join their program and prescriptions were also made to patients who weren’t even present at the time. If the defendants are convicted for these crimes, serious penalties are attached to each one varying in degree based on their involvement and roles.
In the mid 1980’s, Reichle, his sister Rose Marie Herz, and her son Fred Herz purchased the Timberline property from David Downs with the intentions of a Boy Scout camp. After closing the facility from 1986-87 for renovations, the resort was reopened for business and has been in the same ownership for over thirty years. F. Herz and wife Tracy are the main faces seen and heard behind the Timberline entities, especially in lieu of the recent legal issues F. Herz and the company has found themselves involved in. The Parsons Advocate will be following this story as it develops and its relevance, if any, to the Timberline and Herz case.