Written by Mischa Arnosky
Dr. Norman Werther, 73, of Fort Washington, was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years in prison for distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death, and more than 300 counts stemming from his pill mill operation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
A federal jury convicted Werther in June of 184 counts of illegally distributing oxycodone, 116 counts of money laundering, six counts of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Werther was part of a multi-million dollar drug conspiracy involving illegal prescriptions, phony patients, and multiple drug trafficking organizations. At the time, Werther was running a physical therapy and rehabilitation practice in the 300 block of Davisville Road in Willow Grove.
He conspired with six separate groups of drug dealers and was involved in the drug conspiracy between February 2009 and August 2011. The operation resulted in the illegal distribution of more than 700,000 pills containing oxycodone. At least one of the drug trafficking organizations working with Werther trafficked pills valued at more than $5 million that Werther illegally prescribed.
Werther was charged last year in connection with the drug overdose death of Nathaniel Backes. In September 2010, Werther dispensed about 180 pills containing varying amounts of oxycodone to Nathaniel Backes for no legitimate medical purpose; Backes died as the result of using the substance, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Agents had strong words for Werther.
“Werther peddled prescription controlled substances in the very same way a street dealer pushes heroin to addicts,” Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent-in-Charge David Dongilli said in a statement. “His sentence reflects his greed and disregard for the safety of the community he claimed to serve.”