Blow Dealt to Drug Case

Times Staff Writer

A federal judge on Wednesday suppressed evidence that prosecutors planned to use in their case against a Ventura pharmacist accused of illegally dispensing tens of thousands of addictive painkillers.

U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess ruled that law enforcement had no probable cause to search Richard Ozar's Victoria Village Pharmacy.

The judge refused, however, to throw out evidence against the main target of the investigation, Dr. Michael B. Duff, 55, a pain management specialist accused of prescribing excessive doses of Oxycontin, Roxicodone, methadone, hydromorphone and Actiq.

A federal indictment returned last year accused Huff of prescribing drugs to patients regardless of whether they were medically necessary and in doses exceeding manufacturers' recommendations. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Ozar, 58, took part in the conspiracy, according to the indictment, filling most of Huff's prescriptions and reaping more than $2 million in business at his small, neighborhood pharmacy.

Feess said in a written opinion that the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for Ozar's pharmacy was based on information regarding alleged misconduct at another pharmacy. He called this bad legal practice at best.

Moreover, he said, the government had failed to show any connection between Duff and Ozar, except that a substantial majority of the doctor's patients filled their prescriptions at Ozar's pharmacy.

He also noted that Ozar reported all prescriptions containing narcotic substances to the state Department of Justice as required.

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