Sen. Charles Schumer Thursday questioned why federal authorities had failed last year to suspend the license of a Baldwin pharmacy whose owner was charged Monday with filling phony prescriptions for painkillers while awaiting trial on similar charges filed last June.
Lutful Chowdhury, 62, a Westbury resident who owns Aim Pharmacy on Grand Avenue, was prohibited from dispensing prescriptions for narcotics after his most recent arrest but was allowed to continue operating the store, said Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.
The latest arrest was made by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents. In June, the DEA and the Nassau County district attorney's office had charged Chowdhury with illegally dispensing painkillers to Kayla Gerdes of Freeport, who police said ran over and killed a Hempstead woman, Rebecca Twine, 69, in April 2010, while under the influence of drugs.
In a letter to the U.S. Justice Department and the DEA, Schumer wrote that the DEA "must be aggressive in yanking the license of suspected pill mills, particularly when pharmacies employed in these operations are facing actual charges."
DEA spokeswoman Dawn Dearden said the agency had issued a show-cause order immediately after Chowdhury's arrest in June to prevent him from dispensing controlled substances. Dearden said she could not determine last night why his license was not immediately suspended.
"The Justice Department will review the letter" from Schumer, said department spokeswoman Alisa Finelli.
Chowdhury's attorney, William Petrillo, said his client "enjoys the support of many in the community and plans to aggressively challenge these allegations in court."
With Robert E. Kessler