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RITE AID, PRESIDENT GRASS INDICTMENTS BY OHIO GRAND JURY

Executive Summary

RITE AID, PRESIDENT GRASS INDICTMENTS BY OHIO GRAND JURY are on hold while the Ohio Court of Common Pleas for Cuyahoga County weighs the merits of a complaint by Rite Aid against the prosecuting attorney's office handling the case. The indictments, which were unsealed by the court on Aug. 1, charge that Grass attempted to bribe a member of the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. The court ruled Aug. 2 that "upon motion of the defendants and for good cause shown . . . further processing and/or service of the indictment . . . is restrained until further order." * Rite Aid claimed in a motion filed with the court in June that the amount and type of publicity offered by the Cuyahoga County prosecuting attorney's office with regard to the bribery charges should lead the court to consider dismissal of the prosecutor, John Corrigan. The assistant prosecuting attorney, William Caine, is also named in the filing. Martin Grass was arrested April 27, while handing a company check for approximately $ 33,000 to Melvin Wilczynski, a member of the Ohio Pharmacy Board and a consultant and former employee of Peoples Drug. Grass was charged with one count of bribery. In a press release issued shortly after the arrest, the prosecuting attorney said that the payment was part of a "bribe" intended to remove Wilczynski from the Ohio board and replace him with "a pharmacist of Rite Aid's choosing." The grand jury indictment was handed up on June 14 but kept under seal while allegations against state government officials in connection with the charges are reportedly being investigated. Rite Aid has disclosed that its management met with at least one member of the state government with regard to the administration and enforcement of pharmacy laws in Ohio. Rite Aid currently operates approximately 349 outlets in the state. Rite Aid had no formal response to the indictment, but said it stood by earlier statements that the allegations are "without merit" and that the firm and Grass will be "exonerated" as "facts become public." Rite Aid also continues to deny "any wrongful intent in any criminal activities." The company has asserted that the check to Wilczinski was a payment made in exchange for a corporate release settling the consultant agreement which Rite Aid assumed when it acquired the Peoples Drug chain.
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