NEWARK – John G. McCabe, Jr., the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration New Jersey Division joined Chief John U. Holland of the Nutley Police Department, Sheriff Armando Fontoura of the Essex County Sheriff’s Office and Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino to announce the arrests of 19 defendants in Operation Oxymoron on Wednesday.
Eight individuals were arrested and charged with federal drug offenses as authorities dismantled an oxycodone distribution ring allegedly supplied by Vincent Hsia, the registered “pharmacist-in-charge” and proprietor of Lincoln Pharmacy Network, located in Edison. Hsia was arrested Tuesday morning at his residence. Fourteen additional individuals were charged by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office in connection with the case.
The federal Criminal Complaint, unsealed April 6, charges the following individuals with conspiracy to distribute and to dispense oxycodone:
- Vincent Hsia, 50, Flemington;
- Jason Caracappa, 30, Manalapan;
- Pasquale Pugliese, 34, Kenilworth;
- Marc Calabria, 31, Nutley;
- Keith Thompson, 31, Newark;
- Thomas Giaimo, 27, Nutley;
- John Dechiara, 19, Edison; and
- Michael Caviness, 49, Newark.
McCabe said “The TDS is committed to constant vigilance in its effort to reduce the amount of highly addictive legal medications that are being sold illegally and for profit motive. We have an obligation to protect the public from rogue pharmacies and eliminate their illegal activities.”
Oxycodone, the active ingredient in brand name pills such as Oxycontin and Roxycodone, is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse, its currently accepted use is severely restricted, and abuse of the drug may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Oxycodone increasingly has been linked to addiction and overdose, with more than 11,000 deaths attributed to oxycodone abuse in 2006, the latest figures available.
Since at least as early as October 2007, Hsia is alleged to have filled prescriptions for more than 45,000 oxycodone pills despite knowledge that those prescriptions were not issued by a practitioner in the usual course of professional practice or for a legitimate medical purpose. The nature and scope of the conspiracy alleged in the Complaint, however, is even more extensive; in 2009 alone, Lincoln Pharmacy purchased nearly 480,000 dosage units of oxycodone products. That number exceeds, by more than 600%, the average of 78,817 dosage units of oxycodone purchased in 2009 by 1,966 pharmacies statewide.
For example, the Complaint alleges that Hsia not only supplied Caracappa, Pugliese, Calabria, Thompson and Caviness with oxycodone pills, but also provided his co-conspirators with specific instruction as to how the prescriptions were to be completed so as to disguise their fraudulent nature and provide cover for the ongoing scheme. Dechiara, an employee of Lincoln Pharmacy, is alleged to have participated in the conspiracy by facilitating communications and transactions with Hsia in exchange for “kick-backs” of oxycodone pills and prescription blanks. Finally, Giaimo is alleged to have served as a redistributor of oxycodone pills for Calabria.
In connection with the federal arrests, authorities executed search warrants on Lincoln Pharmacy and two additional businesses owned by Hsia, Express Laundry World, LLC, located in Maplewood, and Sudz Wash & Fold, Inc., located in Somerville. Searches were also executed at Hsia’s residence in Flemington and at the residences of four of the co-defendants.
Finally, seizure warrants were executed on a number of bank accounts associated with Hsia and his businesses. In connection with the search and seizure warrants, authorities recovered three firearms, quantities of oxycodone pills, fraudulent prescriptions and prescription blanks, anabolic steroids, and amounts of U.S. currency totaling in excess of approximately $500,000.
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