A.G. Schneiderman Announces Guilty Plea By Oxycodone Kingpin

Ringleader Directed Trafficking Scheme That Exploited Pharmacies In Manhattan, Bronx, Kings, Queens, Dutchess & Orange Counties

Schneiderman: We Must Use Every Tool At Our Disposal To Fight The Epidemic Of Prescription Drug Abuse And Prosecute Those Who Illegally Profit From It

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that John Bland pleaded guilty to charges that he directed a major oxycodone trafficking ring that used forged prescriptions at pharmacies throughout New York City and Orange County to obtain and sell the highly addictive painkillers.

Ringleader John “Nugget” Bland, a 51-year old-Bronx resident, admitted that between February 1, 2011, and January 4, 2012, he possessed and sold 15,670 oxycodone pills that had a street value of $470,100. He pleaded guilty today in Orange County Court to Attempted Operating as a Major Trafficker, a class A-II felony, and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a class B felony.

Bland admitted to being the leader of a controlled substance organization, supplying other members of the organization with forged prescriptions for the narcotic drug oxycodone, and directing them to present the forged prescriptions at pharmacies in New York City and Orange County.  Bland stated that he paid the other members of the trafficking ring between $150 and $400 after receiving the pills they obtained from the forged prescriptions. He also admitted that he sold the oxycodone pills in bulk to other drug dealers for $10 a pill.

“The prescription abuse epidemic has bred a cycle of crime and addiction in communities across New York,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The Bland case is a perfect example of why my office fought to pass the most comprehensive prescription-monitoring program in the nation, I-STOP. With the new law at our disposal, we will continue our rigorous pursuit of criminals who profit illegally from the sale of narcotics and inflict terrible damage on families across our state.”   

Bronx residents Carl Canty, 49; Paul Perez, 42; Mario Aragona, 49; Michelle Kaplan, 42; Darrell Harrison, 50; and Kimberly Augustus, 31, were each previously arrested and charged with four counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree (B felony), two counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree (D felony) and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree (E felony) for their participation in the ring’s activities. 

Last June, the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act, or I-STOP, was passed unanimously by the state legislature and signed into law. The measure, first introduced by Attorney General Schneiderman, requires doctors to review and update a patient’s prescription drug history through a real time database when writing prescriptions for certain controlled substances. The system will eliminate most paper prescriptions by August 2014.

The investigation into Bland’s ring was conducted by the New York State Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the New York City Human Resources Administration, Investigation, Revenue & Enforcement Administration.

Attorney General Schneiderman thanked the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement for their assistance in this investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Christopher Borek, under the supervision of Regional Director Anne Jardine of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit,  Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paul Mahoney, Special Deputy Attorney General Monica Hickey-Martin and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan. The investigation was conducted by Senior Special Investigator Dennis Johnston, Senior Special Investigator Frank Bluszcz, and Special Auditor Investigator Christopher Giacoia, under the supervision of Chief Regional Auditor John Regan, former Supervising Special Investigator Paul Greenspan and Deputy Chief Investigator Thaddeus Fisher.

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