A White House aide who worked on President Carter's 1976 campaign and now supervises the White House office handling public comments on presidential speeches has been charged with altering a prescription to obtain a narcotic drug, D.C. police reported yesterday.
Steven Dana Shoob, 30, a college classmate and friend of the president's son Chip, was arrested at his home on Wednesday after an allegedly altered prescription was discovered in a routine check of prescriptions filled at a Nortwest Washington pharmacy, police said.
Shoob allegedly altered a prescription that he had filled Aug, 7 for 50 tablets of the narcotic durg Percocet, described by Assistant U.S. Atorney Douglas Behr as a synthetic painkiller similar to codeine. The prescription, written on stationery from the office of Dr. James Lynch, was discovered Aug. 13 and a warrant for Shoob's arrest was issued after police said the physician told them he had not written a prescription for Percocet for Shoob.
Lynch declined to say what prescription he had written for Shoob, a patient of his.
Percoet, according to the prosecutor, is "not a common street drug, but it's highly abused and does have a market." Behr said Shoob, who was arrested at his home at 3556 13th St. NW, has no prior criminal record and was released on his own recognizance pending a hearing in the case next Thursday.
The prescription aleration charge carries a maximum sentence of four years in jail and a $30,000 fine, Behr said.
Stanton Rudo, the pharmacist who filled the prescription at the Save-Mor drug store at 18th and G streets NW, said Shoob had been a regular customer for years and had brought in various prescriptions from at least two different doctors for drugs for an arthirtis condition. Rudo said he had doubts about some of the prescriptions but nonetheless filled them.
"It wasn't any obscene amount," said Rudo. "Nothing that would attract suspicion. He did get other drugs for arthritis. I assumed that it (the Percocet prescriptions) had something to do with it."
Rudo described the drug as "more of a downer . . . anyone who is in pain could take it." When asked why he would fill a prescription that possibly was altered, he said: "I knew the guy so I might have altered my judgment. You figure a guy needs it and you give it to him."
The White House learned of he arrest yesterday from normal Secret Service contacts with D.C. police, White House spokesman Ray Jenkins said.
"The White House is looking into the facts of the Case and if this is a violation of White House policy, whatever the facts call for will be done," Jenkins said. The spokesman said he did not know what action would be taken if Shoob were convicted.
On Wednesday, the day of Shoob's arrest, his wife informed his office that he would be taking annual leave. She told reporters yesterday that her husband would have no comment on the charge.
Shoob's case is the second instance of alleged irregularities concerning drug prescription involving White House officials. Dr. Peter Bourne once the president's adviser on drug legislation, was forced to resign after it was disclosed that he had written an improper prescription for the widely abused drug Quaalude, to be picked up by another White House employe under a fictitious name.
Shoob, on the White House staff since Carter's inauguration in January 1977, if from Savannah, Ga., and was a classmate of Chip Carter at Georgia Southwestern College. He was a frequent overnight guest at then Gov. Carter's mansion in Atlanta where, according to a 1977 interview with Shoob, he got to know the future president.
Shoob was one of more than 450 workers on Carter transition team during the months before the inauguration. Shoob sorted mail before receiving his current post supervising two or thre permanent staff workers and a number of voulunteer who tabulate telephone and mail response to presidential speeches and other public comments.
Shoob, a presidential appointee who earns $18,171 a year, has visited the White House medical unit at least five times in the past 18 months and complained of pain due to an arthritic condition, White House spokesmen Jenkins said. He was given a nonnarcotic analgesic on those occasions.
"The White House medical unit does not give narcotics and does not give prescriptions to civilian employes," Jenkins said.