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March 24, 10

NEWS / Fifteen Defendants Plead Guilty to Participating in Hudson County Crime Network Dealing in Prescript


Division of Criminal Justice and Jersey City Police uncover drug dealing & Medicaid fraud

TRENTON - Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that 15 defendants have pleaded guilty for their roles in a black market network that distributed prescription narcotics such as OxyContin and Percocet in Hudson County.

According to Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Riza Dagli, these four defendants pleaded guilty late yesterday to accusations before Superior Court Judge Kevin G. Callahan in Hudson County:

* Brian Kelly, 49, of Hoboken, pleaded guilty to distribution of Percocet within 500 feet of certain public property (2nd degree), conspiracy to commit health care claims fraud (2nd degree), and distribution of Percocet within 1,000 feet of a school (3rd degree). The state will recommend a sentence of six years in state prison with three years of parole ineligibility.
* Joseph Burkhart, 50, of Rutherford, pleaded guilty to possession of Percocet with intent to distribute within 500 feet of certain public property (2nd degree), and possession of Percocet with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school (3rd degree). The state will recommend a sentence of five years in state prison with 20 months of parole ineligibility.
* Lauren Cardinale, 28, of Union City, pleaded guilty to distribution of more than one ounce of Percocet (2nd degree), distribution of Percocet within 1,000 feet of a school (3rd degree), and conspiracy to commit health care claims fraud (3rd degree). The state will recommend a sentence of three years in state prison with 18 months of parole ineligibility.
* Martin Williamson, 51, of Jersey City, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute OxyContin (3rd degree). The state will recommend a sentence of four years in state prison.

The pleas resulted from an ongoing investigation by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Jersey City Police Department’s Special Investigation Unit. Deputy Attorneys General Cynthia Vazquez and Debra A. Conrad took the guilty pleas for the Division of Criminal Justice.

“As these 15 guilty pleas demonstrate, we are moving forward expeditiously to bring the members of this criminal network to justice for distributing dangerous narcotics in our communities,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Dagli. “We have also charged doctors and pharmacists with participating in this ring and falsely billing Medicaid.”

Deputy Attorneys General Vazquez and Conrad also took the following 11 guilty pleas, which were recently entered before Judge Callahan:

* Mark Cerello, 26, of North Bergen, pleaded guilty on March 17 to conspiracy to distribute more than one ounce of OxyContin (2nd degree), distribution of OxyContin within 500 feet of certain property, and possession of OxyContin with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school (3rd degree). The state will recommend a sentence of five years in state prison with 20 months of parole ineligibility.
* Raymond Bremner, 43, of Jersey City, pleaded guilty on Feb. 8 to distribution of OxyContin (2nd degree), two counts of distribution of OxyContin within 500 feet of certain public property (2nd degree), and three counts of distribution of OxyContin within 1,000 feet of a school (3rd degree). The state will recommend a sentence of seven years in prison with 33 months of parole ineligibility.
* Danny Ross, 50, of Jersey City, pleaded guilty on March 9 to possession of Percocet (3rd degree). The state will recommend a sentence of three years in state prison.
* Thomas Milette, 30, of Jersey City, pleaded guilty on March 17 to conspiracy to distribute OxyContin (3rd degree) and conspiracy to distribute OxyContin within 1,000 feet of a school (3rd degree). The state will recommend a sentence of three years in state prison.
* Joseph Chmielewski, 33, of Wallington, pleaded guilty on March 9 to possession of OxyContin (3rd degree). The state will recommend a sentence of probation, while reserving the right to recommend that he serve up to 364 days in the county jail as a condition of probation.
* John Bussanich, 25, of Cliffside Park, pleaded guilty on March 17 to conspiracy to distribute OxyContin (3rd degree). The state will recommend a sentence of probation, while reserving the right to recommend that he serve up to 364 days in the county jail as a condition of probation.
* Marty Taraboccia, 26, of Fairview, pleaded guilty on March 8 to conspiracy to distribute OxyContin (3rd degree). The state will recommend a sentence of probation, while reserving the right to recommend that he serve up to 364 days in the county jail as a condition of probation.
* Emmanuel Tarabokija, 26, of Cliffside Park, pleaded guilty on March 9 to conspiracy to distribute OxyContin (3rd degree). The state will recommend a sentence of probation, while reserving the right to recommend that he serve up to 364 days in the county jail.
* Angela Shoults, 34, of Jersey City, pleaded guilty on March 9 to conspiracy to distribute Percocet (3rd degree). The state will recommend a sentence of probation, while reserving the right to recommend that she serve up to 364 days in the county jail as a condition of probation.
* Sean Jeffrey, 42, of Jersey City, pleaded guilty on March 17 to conspiracy to distribute OxyContin (3rd degree). The state will recommend a sentence of probation.
* Michelle Oliver, 41, of Wallington, pleaded guilty on March 17 to possession of OxyContin (3rd degree). The state will recommend a sentence of probation.

The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on various dates between April and November.

Since October, more than 32 people, including doctors and pharmacists, have been arrested in the joint investigation, which uncovered a major criminal narcotics network based in Hudson County that distributed thousands of black market prescription pain pills such as OxyContin and Percocet. The network was obtaining fraudulent narcotics prescriptions and filling them at various pharmacies.

At the same time, Medicaid was being billed for phony doctor visits and prescription medicines that were never dispensed. The network allegedly distributed the prescription pain pills throughout Hudson County and other parts of the state, including Bergen, Ocean, Morris and Monmouth counties. A single 30 milligram OxyContin pill, known as a “blue,” typically sells for $10 to $20 on the street, while a 10 milligram Percocet pill sells for $5 to $8.

Detective Kevin Gannon, Sgt. Frederick Weidman and Deputy Attorneys General Vazquez and Conrad were assigned to the investigation into this case for OIFP’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

They were assisted by the following members of the Jersey City Police Department’s Special Investigation Unit under the supervision of Chief Thomas Comey: Capt. Gary Lallo, Sgt. Anthony Musante, Sgt. Wally Wolf, Detective Wael Shahid, Detective Jeff Guilfoyle, Detective Vincent Disbrow, Detective Hector Marrero, Police Officer Alex Torres, Police Officer Chris Dolan, and Police Officer Erik Infantes.

The Medicaid program is funded by the state and federal governments. The State of New Jersey administers the program through the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which investigates both criminal and civil Medicaid fraud and abuse in that program.

If anyone has information or would like to report fraud or abuse involving the Medicaid program or Medicaid providers, they should contact the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit by calling the toll-free hotline 1-877-55-FRAUD

http://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases10/pr20100323a.html

 




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