Thursday, November 29, 2012

Long Island Doctor Indicted for Causing Oxycodone Overdose Deaths of Two Patients

SEP 28 (LONG ISLAND, N.Y.) Earlier today, a superseding indictment was unsealed charging Long Island physician William J. Conway with causing the deaths of two patients through the distribution of the highly addictive pain-killer oxycodone. The superseding indictment also charges Conway’s former office assistant, Robert Hachemeister, with conspiracy and distribution of oxycodone. Hachemeister was arrested by federal agents this morning and is scheduled to be arraigned later today before United States District Judge Leonard D. Wexler, at the U.S. Courthouse in Central Islip, New York.
The charges and arrest were announced by Brian R. Crowell, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Field Office, Loretta E. Lynch, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Thomas V. Dale, Commissioner, Nassau County Police Department.
On June 6, 2012, as part of a federal and state prescription drug abuse initiative within the Eastern District of New York, Conway was arrested by members of a task force comprising DEA special agents and Nassau County Police Department detectives on charges of illegally distributing oxycodone to numerous individuals between 2009 and 2012. Conway has been in custody since his arrest. According to court filings and records of the New York State Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, Conway issued 5,554 oxycodone prescriptions – 782,032 pills – to numerous individuals between January 2009 and November 2011, who the defendant knew were addicted to drugs and without performing any meaningful medical examination.
The charges announced today are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. During the execution of a federal search warrant at his offices on February 29, 2012, Conway voluntarily surrendered his DEA registration authorizing him to prescribe controlled substances. However, he continued to issue prescriptions after that date.
The superseding indictment unsealed today charges Conway with causing the deaths of two Long Island men to whom he had distributed oxycodone. According to court filings by the government: (1) On April 23, 2011, Giovanni Manzella died of an overdose of oxycodone less than 48 hours after Conway provided him with two prescriptions totaling 450 pills of the drug; and (2) On October 27, 2011, Christopher Basmas was pronounced dead of an overdose of oxycodone and other narcotics two days after Conway provided him with a prescription for 180 pills of oxycodone.
Patient records seized in this case reveal that patients who obtained oxycodone prescriptions received nothing more than perfunctory examinations, essentially consisting of notations of the patient’s height, weight and blood pressure. After Basmas’s death, Conway allegedly attempted to alter various patient files, and continued to issue prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances, in some instances in the names of individuals he had never treated or even met. Hachemeister, who worked as an office assistant for Conway since approximately 1995, possesses no medical or nursing degree. However, between 2011 and 2012, he allegedly distributed thousands of oxycodone pills using prescription pads that were pre-signed by Conway. Hachemeister is charged with conspiring with Conway to illegally distribute oxycodone, and both men are charged together in 34 counts of distribution of oxycodone. Conway is also charged in eight additional counts with the distribution of the controlled substances hydrocodone and alprazolam.
“Sworn to do no harm, Conway allegedly turned his back on his patients’ real needs and turned instead to the pursuit of easy money. The charges unsealed today reflect the tragic consequences of prescription drug trafficking and abuse,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “This Office, with its state and federal law enforcement partners, will continue to attack this menace which has risen to epidemic proportions in our nation and in our communities.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Crowell stated, “Today’s indictment signifies that the abuse of prescription drugs can lead to death from a doctor’s office or from distribution on the streets. In this case, these individuals allegedly abused the sanctuary of a doctor’s office in order to illegally prescribe pain medication for the use of abuse and drug distribution.”
Nassau County Police Commissioner Dale stated, “The Nassau County Police Department will continue to work closely with both state and federal agencies through the use of the Tactical Diversion Squad created to combat the ever increasing rise in the illegal use of prescription drugs. Our focus will be to investigate and arrest all individuals involved in illegally supplying prescriptions to drug addicted patients with full knowledge of their dependency.”
If convicted of causing the Manzella or Basmas deaths, Conway faces a mandatory-minimum of 20 years’ imprisonment and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Both Conway and Hachemeister face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the remaining charges.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sean C. Flynn and Michael P. Canty. In January 2012, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the DEA, in conjunction with the five District Attorneys in this district, the Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments, and the New York City Police Department, along with other key federal, state, and local government partners, launched the Prescription Drug Initiative to mount a comprehensive response to what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called an epidemic increase in the abuse of so-called opioid analgesics. So far, the Prescription Drug Initiative has brought over 100 federal and local criminal prosecutions, taken civil enforcement action against a pharmacy, removed prescription authority from numerous rogue doctors, and expanded information-sharing among enforcement agencies to better target and pursue drug traffickers.
The Initiative is also involved in an extensive community outreach program to address the abuse of pharmaceuticals. DEA and its national, tribal, and community partners will hold a fifth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day at thousands of collection sites across the country on Saturday, September 29th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Anyone with expired, unused, or unwanted prescription drugs can environmentally dispose of them at locations found at
The Defendants:
Age: 69
Residence: Flushing, NY
Age: 67
Residence: Baldwin, NY

Longshoreman Sentenced to 180 months for Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine

OCT 05 (NEWARK, N.J.) – Robert G. Koval, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New Jersey Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced a longshoreman was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court to180 months in prison for his role in an international drug smuggling conspiracy which led to the seizure of more than 1.3 metric tons of cocaine, valued at over $34 million.
This was the result of a multi-agency investigation which included Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) New Jersey Division, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation’s (HSI) Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST), Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Shon Norville, 40, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero to 15 years in federal prison and five years of supervised release. In addition, Norville was ordered to forfeit more than $180,000 in illegal proceeds to the United States.
According to court records, the initial arrest of Norville October 5, 2010, was the result of an investigation into a Panamanian drug trafficking organization (DTO) that was importing hundred-kilogram shipments of cocaine. The cocaine was hidden inside shipping containers traveling through the Panama Canal destined for the Port of New Jersey/New York. It was then distributed in and throughout the Bronx and Manhattan, among other places. During the course of the investigation, federal and Panamanian law enforcement authorities identified a freight forwarding operation that removed the cocaine-laden containers from secure areas of the Port, and seized more than 1.3 metric tons of cocaine from the Panamanian DTO and at the Port itself, valued at over $34 million.
The investigation later identified a local DTO, led by Norville, which received hundreds of kilograms of cocaine smuggled into the United States from Panama in shipping containers. Norville used his access to the Port and his relationships with other longshoremen, to bribe longshoremen to remove the drugs from shipping containers upon the cocaine’s arrival in the United States. An extensive wiretap investigation revealed that Norville smuggled or attempted to smuggle over 125 kilograms of cocaine, worth over $3 million wholesale, into the United States in 2010 via shipping containers.  Law enforcement agents recovered two guns and hollow-point bullets from Norville’s residence when he was arrested in October 2010.
Norville pleaded guilty May 18, 2012, to the charge of conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine before U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Howard Master and Sarah Paul, Southern District of New York, prosecuted the case.

Monmouth County, N.J., Doctor Pleads Guilty To Oxycodone Distribution and Conspiracy

OCT 22 (TRENTON, N.J.) – Robert G. Koval, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New Jersey Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Paul J. Fishman, the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, announced a doctor who allegedly wrote illegal prescriptions for oxycodone, today admitted to participating in a conspiracy to distribute the medication illegally.
Jacqueline Lopresti, 52, of Fair Haven, N.J., pleaded guilty before Judge Freda L. Wolfson to an Information charging her with one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and 11 counts of distribution of oxycodone.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Oxycodone is the active ingredient in brand name pills such as Oxycontin, Roxicodone and Percocet. It is a Schedule II controlled substance – meaning that it has a high potential for abuse. It has a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse of the drug may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
In 2009, Lopresti issued prescriptions to co-conspirators for drugs containing oxycodone, outside the usual course of medical practice and not for any legitimate medical purpose. The prescriptions were filled at various pharmacies located in and around Monmouth, Ocean, and Atlantic counties, N.J., and redistributed by others.
The charge to which the defendant pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 30, 2013. U.S. Attorney Fishman credited the N.J. DEA Tactical Diversion Squad, composed of DEA special agents, diversion investigators and intelligence analysts; FBI and IRS special agents; and local law enforcement officers from the Essex County Sheriff’s Bureau of Narcotics, Newark Police Department, Elizabeth Police Department, Clinton Township Police Department, and Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Joseph Gribko of the U.S.
Attorney’s Office in Trenton.

Ringleader and 14 Others Arrested in Takedown of Paterson Narcotics Supply Ring

NOV 21 (PATERSON, N.J.) - Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced the arrest of the alleged ringleader and 14 other defendants in the takedown of a major narcotics supply network that allegedly was distributing millions of dollars in heroin out of a number of heroin processing “mills” and stash houses in Paterson yesterday.  Arrest warrants are outstanding for two other defendants who remain fugitives.
Attorney General Chiesa made the announcement in Paterson at the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office with Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor, Sheriff Richard H. Berdnik, Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division, Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert G. Koval of the DEA’s New Jersey Division, and Capt. William Riggins of the New Jersey State Police.  The arrests stem from “Operation Dismayed,” a six-month investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, Passaic County Sheriff’s Office and DEA New York Division.  The New Jersey State Police and DEA New Jersey Division assisted.
Last week, on Nov. 13 and 14, a multi-agency force, led by the Division of Criminal Justice, was deployed in Paterson and Prospect Park to arrest the alleged drug suppliers and raid their heroin processing and stash houses.  Detectives searched 10 residences and one vehicle in the investigation, seizing three kilos of bulk heroin, another kilo of heroin packaged in thousands of glassine envelopes for individual sale, and about $255,000 in cash.  The bulk heroin has a “wholesale” value of more than $300,000, and could have sold for in excess of $1 million once cut and individually packaged for sale on the street. The drug network is believed to have supplied multiple kilos of heroin per week to other suppliers and large-scale dealers.  They did not generally sell to street-level dealers.  The ring allegedly distributed heroin to dealers in northern New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
The ring’s alleged leader, Segundo Garcia, 36, of Prospect Park, was charged with leading a narcotics trafficking network, a first-degree crime that carries a sentence of life in prison, including 25 years without parole.  He was also charged with first-degree distribution of heroin, first-degree possession with intent to distribute, and second-degree conspiracy.  All other defendants were charged with first-degree possession of heroin with intent to distribute or second-degree conspiracy to distribute heroin. 
“Drug dealing is at the heart of the crime and violence plaguing Paterson and our other cities, so taking down major drug suppliers like these defendants, who we allege were polluting our communities by distributing millions of dollars in heroin, will have a real impact on public safety and quality of life,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “We will continue to pursue these proactive, multi-agency investigations that take aim at the ringleaders and the main sources of narcotics, not just street-level dealers.”
“This investigation dismantled the Segundo Garcia heroin trafficking organization operating in New York and New Jersey,” said Special Agent in Charge Crowell of the DEA New York Division. “Heroin trafficking organizations are the primary threat to our region and are fueled by the diversion of pain medicine. The tenacity of investigators assigned to this task force has prevented hundreds of thousands of glassines from being distributed to our communities throughout the region. I highly commend the task force team for their efforts on behalf of the public they are sworn to serve. They completely dismantled multiple heroin mills and removed the dangerous threat of alleged significant drug traffickers from our community.”
“We allege that these drug suppliers operated multiple stash houses around Paterson, as well as heroin mills where they cut the heroin and packaged it into bricks – bundles of about 50 ten-dollar glassine envelopes or ‘bags’ of heroin, ready for distribution on the streets of our cities,” said Director Taylor of the Division of Criminal Justice. “In addition to the three kilos of bulk heroin we seized, we seized nearly 500 bricks of heroin, each with a street value of several hundred dollars.”
“This was a true multi-agency operation,” said Passaic County Sheriff Berdnik. “I commend the Attorney General for the coordination his office provided in making these arrests possible. I feel strongly that the only way to truly reduce narcotics trafficking and street crime is by arresting the individuals involved in creating and implementing the distribution network. This operation will certainly go a long way in reducing drug trafficking in Passaic County.”
Investigators seized 1.5 kilos of heroin, a kilo of cocaine, and packaging materials and equipment from an alleged heroin mill located on the first floor of 447 East 21st Street in Paterson.  The cocaine has a street value of approximately $35,000. They seized an additional 1.5 kilos of heroin and $220,000 in cash from a second mill located on the first floor of 246 Maryland Avenue in Paterson.  Workers clad in aprons and surgical masks allegedly worked at these and other locations to cut, process and package heroin for the network.
Garcia, a Dominican national, served more than five years in federal prison for drug dealing beginning in 2000.  He was subsequently deported by federal immigration authorities, but re-entered the U.S. illegally and allegedly established his large-scale heroin distribution network in Paterson.  A second man, Wilfredo “Willie” Morel, 39, of Paterson, allegedly worked with Garcia to obtain large quantities of heroin and also exercised independent leadership control over other members of the supply network.  He was charged with second-degree conspiracy to distribute heroin.
Three of the defendants arrested allegedly served as “middle managers” for the heroin supply network under Garcia and Morel, helping direct the payment of monies and re-supplying of heroin to the wholesalers. They were charged as follows:
  1. Carlos Gomez, 35, of Paterson. Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin (2nd degree).
  2. Malcolm “Gorilla” Hayes, 44, of Paterson. Distribution of Heroin (1st degree), Possession of Heroin With Intent to Distribute (1st degree), and Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin (2nd degree).
  3. Rigoberto Perez, 33, of Paterson. Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin (2nd degree).
Five defendants allegedly served as lower-level managers and suppliers.  They were charged as follows:
  1. Alvin Alba, 24, of Paterson. Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin (2nd degree).
  2. Braulio Minaya, 27, of Paterson. Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin (2nd degree).
  3. Wendy Taveraz, 30, of Paterson. Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin (2nd degree).
  4. Christopher Lee Cox, 27, of Pittsburgh, Pa. Possession of Heroin With Intent to Distribute (1st degree).
  5. Franchot J. Keeling, 40, of Paterson. Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute (1st degree).
Cox and Keeling were arrested on Oct. 11 on Route 80 when investigators stopped the Dodge Caravan in which they were traveling.  Execution of a search warrant revealed 425 bricks of heroin in the van.  Another 65 bricks of heroin were seized last week in a search of Minaya’s house on Danforth Avenue.
The other seven defendants who have been arrested or are being sought on warrants were alleged workers in the supply network who were involved in processing, packaging and transporting heroin.  They were charged as follows:
  1. Manuel Almonte, 44, of Paterson. Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin (2nd degree). *Almonte is a fugitive being sought on a warrant.
  2. Leonardo “Flaco” Flores, 53, of Paterson. Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin (2nd degree).
  3. Francisco Hidalgo, 56, of Paterson. Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin (2nd degree). *Hidalgo is a fugitive being sought on a warrant.
  4. Randolph Breton, 34, of Brooklyn, N.Y. Possession of Heroin With Intent to Distribute (1st degree).
  5. Abraham Diaz, 44, of New York City. Possession of Heroin With Intent to Distribute (1st degree).
  6. Robin Vargas, 19, of Paterson. Possession of Heroin With Intent to Distribute (1st degree).
  7. Bienvenido Rodriguez, 40, of New York City. Possession of Heroin With Intent to Distribute (1st degree).
Almonte and Flores are taxi drivers who allegedly transported members of the network and heroin to and from the various locations used by the criminal enterprise.
The investigation was conducted for the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice by Detective Travis Johnson, who was the lead detective, and other members of the Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Lt. Christopher Donohue, Sgt. Ho Chul Shin, Deputy Attorney General Annmarie Taggart and Deputy Attorney General Lauren Scarpa-Yfantis, who is Deputy Bureau Chief.  The investigation was conducted for the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office by its Narcotics Enforcement Bureau, with assistance from other member of the Sheriff’s Office. The investigation was conducted for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration by DEA Group D-32 with assistance from members of DEA Division 30 and DEA Newark Division.  Attorney General Chiesa thanked the New Jersey State Police Intelligence Section for its valuable assistance in the investigation.
The arrested individuals were lodged in the Passaic County Jail.  Bail for Garcia was set at $350,000 cash, with a bail source hearing required.  Cash bails were set for the other defendants ranging from $125,000 to $250,000, with bail source hearings required in every case.
The complaints that were filed are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.  The charges will be presented to a grand jury for potential indictment.  The charge of leader of a narcotics trafficking network carries a sentence of life in prison, including 25 years without parole, and a criminal fine of up to $750,000.  The charge of first-degree possession of heroin with intent to distribute carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

Saratoga Springs Man Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison

NOV 28 (ALBANY, N.Y.) -  Eric Canori, 33, of Saratoga Springs, New York, was sentenced yesterday, November 27, 2012 by Chief United States District Court Judge Gary L. Sharpe, in Albany to 30 months of imprisonment for his role in a marijuana distribution conspiracy, announced Brian R. Crowell, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Field Division and United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian. Canori, who had entered a guilty plea on June 6, 2011 to one count of conspiracy to distribute 100 or more kilograms of marijuana, was also sentenced to four years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment. Canori was ordered to report to a designated Bureau of Prisons facility on January 8, 2013.
“Drug trafficking never ends with a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Nothing good comes from doing something bad, especially cross country drug distribution,” DEA SAC Brian R. Crowell stated. “This marijuana drug distribution conspiracy was unraveled and dismantled from coast to coast. Our task forces across the country see to it that traffickers will lose their ill-gotten profits from selling drugs and endangering our communities.” SAC Crowell commended our dedicated task force partners who worked this investigation from the west coast, through the heartland, to our Capital region.
Beginning in or about 2008, Canori was a part of a marijuana distribution conspiracy that involved the cross-country trafficking of marijuana from the West Coast to various destinations on the East Coast, including Saratoga County. During the course of the conspiracy, several hundred pounds of marijuana was trafficked. In June 2009, investigators executed search warrants at Canori’s residences in Wilton, New York and Ross, California and recovered currency, marijuana, and drug packaging materials. Subsequent investigation led to the additional recovery of precious metals that were proceeds of the conspiracy. Ultimately, investigators recovered over $11.28 million in proceeds of the conspiracy.
U.S. Attorney Hartunian praised the outstanding cooperative efforts of the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies who participated in this investigation. U.S. Attorney Hartunian noted that his Office “will continue to work closely with the federal, state, and local authorities to prosecute individuals and organizations that engage in marijuana trafficking and other criminal activity throughout the Northern District of New York.”
This case was investigated by the Capital District Drug Enforcement Task Force; the New York State Police; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois; the Quad City Metropolitan Enforcement Group; the Henry County, Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office; the DEA Rock Island, Illinois Post of Duty; the DEA Norfolk, Virginia Resident Office; and the Illinois State Police.

Physician Charged with Possessing Crack Cocaine

NOV 28 (BUFFALO, N.Y.)  - U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell, New York Field Division and U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced that Daniel C. Gillick, 62, a physician residing in Youngstown, N.Y., and Christine D. Guilfoyle, 27, also of Youngstown, were arrested and charged by criminal complaint with a misdemeanor charge of possession of crack cocaine. The charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Lynch, who is handling the case, stated that on November 27, 2012, special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration stopped a vehicle driven by Christine Guilfoyle and found her in possession of a quantity of crack cocaine. According to the complaint, after her arrest, Guilfoyle told agents that she purchased the drugs for Daniel Gillick and that the two of them were going to use the crack cocaine that night. 
Agents later obtained a federal search warrant for Daniel Gillick’s residence, located at 230 Main Street, Youngstown, New York.  During the execution of the search warrant, agents seized paraphernalia consistent with drug use, as well as other evidence.
Gillick and Guilfoyle made an initial appearance this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott. Bond for Gillick was set at $5,000. Guilfoyle was detained pending placement in an inpatient drug treatment program. The defendants are due back in court on November 30, 2012 at 2:00 p.m.
The Criminal Complaint is the result of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Brian R. Crowell, Special Agent in Charge, New York Field Division, Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christopher M. Piehota, the Amherst Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Askey, the  Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda, the Lancaster Police Department, under the direction of Chief Gerald Gill, the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff Timothy Howard, the Depew Police Department, under the direction of Chief Stan Carwile, and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Drug Task Force, under the direction of Sheriff James Votour.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.