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Post date: March 21 2013

A.G. Schneiderman Breaks Up Major Oxycodone Trafficking Ring In NYC And Hudson Valley

Ring Used Forged Prescriptions To Obtain And Sell Thousands Of Oxycodone Pills

6 Arrested In Trafficking Scheme That Hit Pharmacies In Manhattan, Bronx, Kings, Queens, Dutchess & Orange County

Schneiderman: We Are Aggressively Cracking Down On This Crisis With Every Tool At Our Disposal

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office has broken up a major oxycodone trafficking ring that used forged prescriptions to obtain and sell thousands of painkillers, which were valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ringleader John Bland, a/k/a “Nugget,” 49, of the Bronx – has been indicted and charged with more than 30 felony counts, including Operating as a Major Trafficker. If convicted, Bland faces a sentence of 25 years to Life in state prison. In addition, five of Bland’s accomplices were also arrested this week and charged with seven felony counts. If convicted, each of the accomplices faces up to 9 years in prison.

“My office will do everything in its power to crack down on the criminals who use fake prescriptions to fuel dangerous addictions and illegally traffic in prescription narcotics,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Cases like this are exactly why my office fought to pass New York’s historic I-STOP prescription drug abuse prevention law. Illegally profiting off the addiction and suffering of others is a crime, and the kingpin of this operation and his accomplices will now be held accountable.”

According to the charges, Bland supplied forged prescriptions to his accomplices, who used them at pharmacies throughout New York City and the Hudson Valley. Bland would contact his accomplices and arrange to pick them up in a rental vehicle. He would drive them around to various pharmacies throughout Manhattan, Kings, Queens, the Bronx, Orange and Dutchess counties. Once at the pharmacies, he would provide his accomplices with forged prescriptions in their respective names and enough cash to pay for the drugs. Once the prescription was successfully filled, the accomplice would hand the drugs over to Bland. Bland paid the accomplices fees between $150 and $400 for the pills and sold them in bulk to other drug dealers.

Bland’s indictment was the result of an investigation conducted by the New York State Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the NYC Human Resources Administration, Investigation, Revenue & Enforcement Administration, which had been jointly investigating the group for submitting forged oxycodone prescriptions at pharmacies in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Dutchess County and Orange County.

Bland was arraigned in Orange County Court on an indictment charging him with Operating as Major Trafficker (A-I felony); 16 counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, (B felony); 9 counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, (D felony); 6 counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree, (A misdemeanor); and Conspiracy in the Second Degree, (B felony).

Five of Bland’s accomplices were also arrested. Carl Canty, 49; Paul Perez, 42; Mario Aragona, 49; Michelle Kaplan, 42; and Kimberly Augustus, 31, all of the Bronx. Each was 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).

In June, the New York legislature unanimously passed the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act, or I-STOP, which was then signed into law. First introduced by Attorney General Schneiderman, I-STOP requires doctors to review a patient’s prescription drug history and update it through a real time database when writing prescriptions for certain controlled substances, and eliminates most paper prescriptions by August of 2014. I-STOP would have prevented Bland’s use of these stolen and forged paper prescriptions.

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

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

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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