Doctor charged with unauthorized prescriptions

Surgeon authorized pain medication and other drugs for female not under his care

From staff reports

HARRISBURG — An orthopedic surgeon based in Centre County remains free on $20,000 unsecured bail on felony charges in connection with writing 63 prescriptions for opioid pain medication and other drugs for a woman who wasn’t his patient.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled July 19 for Dr. Kenneth L. Cherry, 58, of State College, who was arraigned in June before Centre County Magisterial District Judge Thomas N. Jordan of Centre Hall.

Cherry is a hip- and knee-joint replacement specialist associated with University Orthopedics Center, headquartered in State College with offices in Blair County.

In the criminal charges, the state Attorney General’s office accused Cherry of prescribing large amounts of medication to Mary Amendola between November 2014 and May 2016.

Investigators determined that while Amendola had been a patient at University Orthopedics Center, she was never Cherry’s patient.

When investigators met with Amendola, she indicated that she had a “personal/sexual” relationship with Cherry and that he wrote prescriptions that she would retrieve from his unlocked car or truck, the criminal charges indicate.

Investigators also said Cherry acknowledged the affair with Amendola and admitted to writing prescriptions for her to address back pain, but not documenting those prescriptions because she had no insurance.

Amendola told the investigators that she had insurance and used it to pay for her prescriptions.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro commended the CVS Pharmacy of State College for contacting his office in May 2016 to report the amounts of controlled substances being prescribed to the woman.

“The illegal diversion of prescription drugs is a serious, growing problem in our Commonwealth,” Shapiro said. “Whether it’s people stealing a prescription pad to obtain opioids, a pharmacy aide stealing 30,000 prescription pills or a doctor unlawfully writing prescription drugs for someone who isn’t his patient, if you divert prescription drugs, we’re going to prosecute you.”

Acting Chief Deputy Attorney General Patrick Leonard has been assigned to handle the prosecution.