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Harmony woman charged in painkiller fraud and sale

Wednesday, August 08, 2001

By Jonathan D. Silver, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

A Beaver County woman who used false names and forged prescriptions to obtain thousands of dollars worth of the potent painkiller OxyContin and then sold the pills has been arrested on numerous drug charges.

The arrest of Tara Lynn Badamo, 27, of Harmony, is the latest bad publicity for the slow-release opioid. The drug is considered to be a miracle for those who need it but can be highly addictive and potentially deadly if used incorrectly.

Even as doctors and pharmacists are tightening restrictions to prevent OxyContin from getting into the wrong hands, Badamo fooled the Medicine Shoppe in Rochester for the past two months, police said.

Badamo altered a prescription for a magnetic resonance imaging test legitimately prescribed by her doctor, made copies and then wrote in OxyContin, said Harmony Police Chief Jack Lively.

Badamo, her boyfriend and possibly other people took 15 prescriptions to the pharmacy and bought 820 OxyContin pills during the past two months, Lively said.

They paid a total of $3,827 in cash for drugs with a street value calculated by Lively at $22,000. Most of the pills were in 40 milligram doses and came in vials of 60. Police believe Badamo sold half and kept the rest.

Police were led to Badamo during an arrest last week. At a crack house that was under surveillance, a police informant bought OxyContin. Officers also saw Badamo entering the house while her live-in boyfriend, Larry Krestal, 33, remained outside.

Police did not know where the couple's 2-year-old daughter was at the time and they assumed Badamo took her into the house.

When officers returned to the station to prepare a report about their suspicions for the county's Children and Youth Services bureau, a CYS representative walked in with a court order to seize Badamo's child because Badamo had not appeared at a court hearing that morning.

When police accompanied a CYS worker to Badamo's house, they found drug paraphernalia, blank prescriptions and fake identification cards, including a dead woman's Social Security card and driver's license, Lively said.

The Medicine Shoppe pharmacist told police that people bought OxyContin under seven different names with Badamo's prescriptions. She never forged one in her own name, but her boyfriend presented five in his name, Lively said.

At the pharmacy, a copy of one of Badamo's prescriptions was tacked to the wall with a note alerting pharmacists not to honor them anymore.

Police said neither the pharmacy nor Badamo's doctor was at fault.

Badamo is charged with three counts each of forging prescriptions to obtain a controlled substance and of obtaining a controlled substance with a forged prescription.

Police have obtained a warrant for Krestal's arrest on the same charges, as well as criminal conspiracy.

Badamo was arraigned Monday before District Justice Janet Swihart in Hopewell, who was filling in for Harmony's magistrate. She was held on $100,000 bond. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday.

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