A.G. Schneiderman Announces Conviction Of Major Oxycodone Trafficker Based On Staten Island And Secures A Seven Year Prison Sentence

Michael Mancusi Gets Time Behind Bars For Defrauding Medicaid And Medicare To Obtain And Sell Prescription Narcotics And For Scamming Automobile Insurance Carriers

By Doctor-And-Pharmacy-Shopping, Mancusi’s Organization Illegally Obtained And Sold Over 6,000 Pills Of Oxycodone In One Year

Schneiderman: Prescription Drug Trafficking Rings Will Be Shut Down And These Criminals Will Be Brought To Justice

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the guilty plea of Michael A. Mancusi, a major narcotics trafficker on Staten Island who illegally obtained and sold thousands of pills of prescription narcotics, including oxycodone. Mancusi, 27, supplied his drug-dealing operation by fraudulently claiming serious and permanent injuries related to motor vehicle accidents and applying for Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare benefits to unlawfully obtain prescription drugs, including oxycodone, alprazolam (commonly known as Xanax) and fentanyl patches. Together with his girlfriend, co-defendant Shannon Daniell and other co-conspirators, Mancusi then illegally sold the drugs to buyers in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey.

“We have shut down a dangerous scheme that dealt illegal prescription drugs at the taxpayers’ expense. The conviction of this major drug trafficker will make our streets safer and sends a message to would-be criminals to think twice before dealing drugs in New York State,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “The epidemic of prescription drug abuse has plagued our communities for too long, and we are aggressively cracking down on this crisis with every tool at our disposal. Illegally profiting off the addiction and suffering of others is a crime, and the kingpin of this operation will now be held accountable.”

Today, before Judge Alan J. Meyer in Richmond County Criminal Court, Mancusi pleaded guilty to Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree (a class A-II felony), Insurance Fraud in the Second Degree (a class C felony), Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a Class C felony), Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a Class D felony) and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree (a Class E felony). Mancusi, who has been incarcerated without bail since his arraignment on August 15, 2012, will be sentenced to seven years in state prison and five years post-release supervision on the top possession count, two and one-third to seven years in prison on the insurance fraud and Grand Larceny in the Second Degree counts, two to six years in prison on the Grand Larceny in the Third Degree count and one and one-third to four years on the conspiracy count. The sentences will run concurrently.

In a lengthy allocution today before Judge Alan J. Meyer, Mancusi admitted that following motor vehicle accidents on January 6, 2007, and January 9, 2007, he made false claims of physical injury to obtain automobile insurance no-fault benefits and also initiated multiple lawsuits, fraudulently claiming serious injury and protracted pain. Mancusi admitted that he then used his fraudulent claims of serious injury and protracted pain to obtain Medicaid and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and, subsequently, Medicare.

Mancusi further admitted that he used his false claims of injury to engage in doctor-shopping to find medical providers who would prescribe him oxycodone and other controlled substances. Thereafter, defendant Mancusi obtained various prescriptions for controlled substances, funded by auto insurance no-fault benefits as well as his Medicaid and Medicare benefits. Ring-leader Mancusi, along with Daniell and three other co-conspirators, then unlawfully distributed these prescription medications for profit.

Mancusi admitted that through his fraudulent scheme, between August 1, 2011, and August 8, 2012, alone, he obtained 14 bottles of 10-milligram oxycodone tablets (a total of 3,360 pills) and 13 bottles of 30-milligram oxycodone tables (a total of 3,120 pills) as well as additional prescriptions for 15-milligarm oxycodone tables, alprazolam (Xanax) and fentanyl patches. Oxycodone, a Schedule II narcotic drug, is a powerful synthetic opiate analgesic, a class of drugs which also includes morphine and heroin. Fentanyl, also a Schedule II narcotic, is a powerful synthetic opiate analgesic similar to but more potent than morphine. Both drugs are typically used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery. Alprazolam, a Schedule IV controlled substance, is a long-lasting depressant belonging to the benzodiazepine family and is typically used therapeutically to produce sedation, induce sleep, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms and -prevent seizures. All three prescription drugs are commonly diverted for illicit use and street sales.

Mancusi admitted that after fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs, he and Daniell sold them to various buyers throughout New York and New Jersey at the following prices: three 10-milligram oxycodone tablets for $20; one 15-milligram oxycodone tablet for $10; three 30-milligram oxycodone tablets for $55; one alprazolam tablet for $5; and one fentanyl patch from $30. Mancusi admitted that between August 1, 2011, and August 8, 2012, he and Daniell earned over $75,000 from their illegal drug sales.

In addition to serving seven years behind bars, as part of his plea, defendant Mancusi signed General Releases of Claims discharging all outstanding claims related to his motor vehicle accidents, including discontinuing his pending lawsuits. Mancusi also agreed to forfeit to the New York State Office of the Attorney General the contents of a safe recovered pursuant to a search warrant executed at his house, including $47,070 and various chains, pendants, necklaces and watches, as well as two vehicles, a Lincoln Navigator and Mercury Marquis.

The charges against Mancusi’s girlfriend, Shannon Daniell, 23, as well as additional defendants charged as part of this conspiracy are pending.

Today’s conviction follows a successful effort by Attorney General Schneiderman to overhaul the state’s prescription drug monitoring system in order to prevent cases of doctor shopping and pharmacy shopping like this one. In June, the legislature unanimously passed the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act, or I-STOP. First introduced by Attorney General Schneiderman, I-STOP requires doctors to review a patient’s prescription drug history and update it in real time when writing prescriptions for certain controlled substances. Had such a system been in place at the time that Mancusi committed his crimes, authorities could have quickly detected his doctor-shopping.

These arrests are the culmination of a long-term investigation conducted jointly by the New York State Attorney General's Automobile Insurance Fraud Unit (AIFU) and Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), including court-ordered wiretaps on telephones used by defendant Mancusi and co-defendant Daniell.

“This conviction takes one more poison peddler off of our streets, and ultimately may save dozens of families from suffering the tragic consequences of prescription pill abuse,” said Staten Island District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan. “My office will continue to work with Attorney General Schneiderman to protect the public and combat this drug scourge that plagues our communities.”

The Attorney General thanks the following law enforcement partners for their valuable assistance in this case: the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement; the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General; the United States Social Security Administration; the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS); the Richmond County District Attorney's Office; and the New York City Police Department. The Attorney General also thanks the New York City Human Resources Administration, the Department of Social Services, the New York City Metropolitian Transportation Authority and American International Group, Inc.

AIFU Assistant Attorneys General Milton Yu and Chin-Ho Cheng, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Bureau Chief Gail Heatherly of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, are prosecuting the case, together with MFCU Special Assistant Attorney General Crystal Barrow and Deputy Regional Director Christopher Shaw under the supervision of MFCU Chief of Criminal Investigations Kelly Donovan and Special Deputy Attorney General Monica Hickey-Martin. The case was investigated by AIFU Investigator Michael Houlihan, AIFU Legal Analysts Lori Alden and Paul Strocko under the supervision of AIFU Deputy Chief Leonard D'Alessandro, MFCU Special Investigators Albert Maiorano, Robert Flynn, James Serra and Chief Investigator Vito Spano, all under Deputy Chief John Reidy and Chief Dominick Zarrella of the Investigations Bureau, and MFCU Special Auditor-Investigator Kashmir Singh, under the supervision of MFCU New York City Regional Chief Auditor Thomasina Piccolo-Smith. The related asset forfeiture action is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Brian Moore.

The charges against the remaining defendants are accusations, and these defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.