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The former owners of Lowen’s, a Bay Ridge pharmacy whose ex-proprietor committed suicide last year as cops closed in during a drug probe, have been charged with conspiring to illegally distribute steroids.
The indictment — announced by District Attorney Charles Hynes on Tuesday — comes more than a year after a pair of raids of the pharmacy netted $8 million in steroids and human growth hormone.
Lowen’s, a popular mom-and-pop drug store at the corner of Third Avenue and 69th St., was sold in May, and the current owners are not implicated in the investigation.
“We have nothing to do with steroids, but we’ve gotten some calls from their former clients who still want their stuff,” said Alex Tarnarider, the president of the company which bought the store from former owner John Rossi’s widow after Rossi fatally shot himself in February. “We can’t help them, of course.”
The indictment centers on Staten Island doctor Richard Lucente, who was charged with writing illegal prescriptions and directing juicers to Lowen’s in exchange for almost $30,000 in kickbacks.
The doc faces a total of 418 years in prison, but no Lowen’s employees were charged personally, despite the allegation that Lucente’s fraudulent prescriptions were mixed on the premises. Only the drugstore’s corporate entity was indicted — and “only Rossi could have faced jail time,” said the DA’s spokesman, Jonah Bruno.
At the eventual trial, the names of Lowen’s corporate officers will be revealed, but those officers are facing fines at most, Bruno said.
Court papers described Rossi’s son-in-law Edward Letendre as an unindicted co-conspirator. Letendre, an ex-pharmacy employee, co-owned a “wellness clinic” with Lucente from which the corrupt doc wrote his fraudulent prescriptions — including one to bodybuilder Joseph Baglio, who died from steroid abuse last year.
Richard Signorelli, the attorney for the former Lowen’s ownership team, declined to comment on the charges.
According to the indictment, the conspiracy lasted from December 2004 to October 2007, when investigators seized millions of dollars worth of raw HGH, testosterone, nandrolone and stanozolol.
The pharmacy has a colorful history.
Another former co-owner, Julius Nasso, was convicted of using Gambino muscle to extort actor Steven Seagal in 2002.
But Nasso sold his interest well before the pharmacy started distributing steroids, according to his attorney, and is not involved in the indictment.
And last April, Lowen’s made headlines after 19 NYPD officers reportedly got steroids there.
In addition to selling to bodybuilding cops, the pharmacy is alleged to have illegally imported and mixed its own steroids and HGH, which it distributed to “anti-aging clinics” and online pharmacies across the country.
Lowen’s was named in Major League Baseball’s steroid investigation, a probe that led to revelations that Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez was a juicer.
But don’t jump to conclusions: A-Rod was not one of the steroid users who called Lowen’s, Tarnarider said.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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