Pharmacist Nailed for Online Drug Sales

ByABC News via logo
December 7, 2003, 7:52 PM

Dec. 8 -- Francine Haight will never forget the day she found her son Ryan, a high school senior, lifeless, in his bed.

"I tried to resuscitate him," Haight, said crying. But it was too late. Doctors found that Ryan Haight, an honor student who was barely 18, had died of an overdose of powerful prescription painkillers, a verdict that shocked his mother.

"I was just, 'Oh my God hydrocodone, morphine, morphine. How did he get morphine?" she recalled.

It turned out that some of the drugs that killed the La Mesa, Calif., teen on Feb. 12, 2001 came from, a Norman, Okla.-based Internet drug store owned by pharmacist Clayton Fuchs, who also ran other similar Web sites.

Haight's parents intentionally made sure the computer wasn't in their son's bedroom, so that they could monitor his online activities. But he had been sneaking onto the computer in the den late at night and ordering drugs, then experimenting with various combinations to get high.

Fuchs sent Haight the drugs even though he knew the teenager had never been examined by the doctor who wrote the prescription.

"I felt that the prescriptions were valid, so I filled them," said Fuchs.

20 Years to Life

In October, a federal jury convicted Fuchs, 33, on six felony offenses including conspiracy to dispense a controlled substance, operating a continuing criminal enterprise and money laundering. Prosecuted under the Drug Kingpin Statute, he faces 20 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 11.

Prosecutors say that between January 2000 and March 2001, Fuchs grossed $5.6 million by selling controlled drugs via the Internet. He's not alone. On Dec. 4, federal prosecutors in Alexandria, Va., unsealed an indictment, charging 10 people and three companies with illegally selling controlled substances and other prescription drugs over the Internet to consumers through various Web sites.