Two former officials of Fayette health department face drug-related offenses

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comjkegley@herald-leader.comSeptember 10, 2011 

The former chief operating and pharmacy officers of the Fayette County Health Department's Primary Care Center are facing drug-related charges over transactions that allegedly occurred at the agency.

Kyle Black, who resigned in June as the center's chief operating officer, is scheduled to appear Monday in Fayette District Court for a preliminary hearing on two charges of attempting to obtain controlled substances by fraud, according to court documents.

An Aug. 9 arrest warrant alleges that Black used a false name to obtain a prescription of Ambien, a sleep aid and a controlled substance.

The pharmacist suspected of filling the prescription was Surinder Sabharwal, the warrant said. Sabharwal once was the primary care center's chief pharmacist. He is on unpaid leave from the health department.

Black also allegedly used a false name to obtain a prescription of the controlled substance Androgel, a daily testosterone replacement therapy, and Sabharwal was the suspected "filling pharmacist," according to Black's arrest warrant.

Black, who declined to comment Friday, has pleaded not guilty.

Sabharwal was charged Aug. 28 with two counts of prescription-drug trafficking and one count of uttering a false or forged prescription. He pleaded not guilty. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Sept. 19 in Fayette District Court.

An arrest warrant on the charge of uttering a false or forged prescription alleged that Sabharwal unlawfully dispensed Androgel from the Health Department through a prescription filled for Black.

The physician named as prescribing the drug said he could not recall authorizing the prescription, according to Sabharwal's arrest warrant.

"Mr. Sabharwal is insistent the Rx was authorized," the arrest warrant said.

The trafficking charges were based on allegations that Sabharwal unlawfully added refills to prescriptions and unlawfully changed the prescribers' names, the warrant said.

Both men were released on bond from the Fayette Detention Center. On Friday, Sabharwal referred questions to his attorney, Jim Lowry, who declined to comment.

Rice Leach, who took over as Fayette County health commissioner earlier this year, confirmed Friday that Black had resigned and that Sabharwal was on unpaid leave. But Leach declined to provide any other details about the case.

Before Black resigned and Sabharwal was placed on unpaid leave, the men had been reassigned from their duties because of an investigation by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services' Office of the Inspector General and the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy.

Before Leach took over as health commissioner this year, the health department faced a number of upheavals, including management changes and staff members' complaints about a hostile work environment.

Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears at (859) 231-3409 and Josh Kegley at (859) 231-3250.

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