TRENTON – A medical doctor who formerly had an office in Lawrence has been sentenced to state prison for selling prescriptions for the highly addictive painkiller Percocet to a drug dealer in the names of purported patients he never treated or examined, and creating false medical records to back up the prescriptions, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced.
On Friday, Dec. 7, Superior Court Judge Robert C. Billmeier in Trenton sentenced William C. Kropinicki, 59, of Morrisville, Pa., to seven years in state prison. Kropinicki was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. The doctor was on trial when he pleaded guilty on Oct. 24 to all charges in the indictment against him, including second-degree conspiracy; second-degree distribution of oxycodone, sold under the brand name Percocet; third-degree obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud; and fourth-degree falsification or alteration of records related to medical care.
The charges resulted from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, the Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau and the Bordentown City Police Department. The State Board of Medical Examiners revoked Kropinicki’s license to practice medicine in New Jersey in 2008 after the Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau filed an action against his license based on his illegal writing of Percocet prescriptions.
Deputy Attorney General Russell J. Curley prosecuted the case and represented the Division of Criminal Justice at the sentencing. The lead investigator was Investigator Richard Lizzano of the Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau.
“The prison sentence imposed on this doctor should send a loud and clear message to all medical professionals that they will face stern punishment if they knowingly prescribe or supply dangerous narcotics to individuals who do not have a legitimate medical need for them,” said Chiesa. “We will not tolerate doctors who violate the law and contribute to the deadly epidemic of prescription painkiller addiction sweeping the nation.”
“The Division of Criminal Justice will continue to investigate and aggressively prosecute doctors, pharmacists and drug dealers who seek to profit from the black market for narcotic painkillers in New Jersey,” said Stephen J. Taylor, director of the Division of Criminal Justice.
“The Division’s Enforcement Bureau aggressively investigates cases of prescription drug diversion by the healthcare professionals New Jersey trusts to responsibly prescribe controlled painkillers,” Eric T. Kanefsky, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said. “Prescription painkiller abuse now kills more Americans each year than heroin and cocaine combined. A doctor who abuses the privilege to prescribe these substances is as much of a threat to the health and safety of society as a drug dealer on the street. The Division will continue to take all necessary steps to halt illegal diversion of these substances.”
Kropinicki was indicted on Jan. 9, 2009, along with a co-defendant, Carl Hames, 48, of Trenton. Hames pleaded guilty on May 6, 2010 to a second-degree charge of possession of Percocet with intent to distribute and a third-degree charge of possession of Percocet with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school property.
On August 12, 2008, Hames went to Kropinicki’s medical office and paid him for eight prescriptions for Percocet, giving Kropinicki eight names and paying him $100 for each prescription for 120 pills. Kropinicki wrote the eight prescriptions and subsequently created false medical records for each of the eight names, indicating he had physically examined each of the purported patients, when, in fact, he had not.
Hames told investigators that he frequently obtained illegal prescriptions for Percocet from Kropinicki in that fashion. Hames was arrested on the same day that Kropinicki wrote the eight prescriptions, after Hames filled all of the prescriptions at a pharmacy in Bordentown City. The pharmacy alerted police about the suspicious prescriptions and Hames was arrested following a vehicle stop by a Bordentown City police officer. A bag containing more than 800 Percocet pills was seized from the vehicle.
Further investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau established that Kropinicki had conspired with Hames since at least the start of 2008 to write prescriptions for Percocet for people he never treated or examined. The DCA Enforcement Bureau conducted a thorough review of records related to prescriptions written by Kropinicki, uncovering hundreds of suspicious prescriptions.
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