TRENTON – A medical doctor who is a former borough councilman in Madison was indicted today on charges that he allegedly conspired to illegally distribute a highly-addictive prescription painkiller by writing prescriptions without treating or examining patients, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced.
Dr. Vincent A. Esposito, 55, who had an office at 322 Main Street in Madison and served on the borough council from 2008 until last year, was charged with second-degree counts of conspiracy and distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, namely oxycodone.
The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice also today obtained a state grand jury indictment against Srinivasa Raju, 41, of Clifton, who operated as a pharmacist at Bottle Hill Pharmacy in Madison, on the same counts. The two men were initially charged and arrested last year in an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
“It is appalling that a small-town doctor who was also a local councilman would allegedly conspire in the illicit distribution of these dangerous, highly addictive painkillers,” said Chiesa. “We allege that he turned his physician’s oath to do no harm on its head and made a mockery of his pledge to serve the community.”
“With painkiller addiction reaching epidemic levels, we are redoubling our efforts to lock up the doctors, pharmacists, drug dealers and other criminals who run the black market for these pills,” said Elie Honig, Deputy Director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This case, brought to us by the U.S. DEA, illustrates how licensed professionals are becoming involved in this dark trade.”
“These are educated professionals who violated their oaths to their patients, despite all the public awareness campaigns in New Jersey identifying the dangers of diverted pain medicine and the harm and pain they cause in our communities,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert G. Koval of the DEA’s New Jersey Division. “These defendants are a prime example of the problems fueling our drug threat in the region, and we are relieved they are out of business.”
The indictment alleges that Esposito and Raju conspired to illegally distribute oxycodone between May 13 and Dec. 29, 2011. Esposito allegedly prescribed OxyContin and other forms of oxycodone, the generic name of the narcotic in OxyContin, to people he did not treat or examine, and, in some cases, never saw at all. He allegedly conspired with Raju to have the individuals fill the prescriptions at Bottle Hill Pharmacy. It is alleged that Raju dispensed oxycodone pills to individuals who did not have a prescription or who he knew did not have a valid prescription. It is further alleged that Esposito at times would write prescriptions after the fact to cover quantities of oxycodone that were dispensed by Raju without a prescription.
During the investigation, Esposito allegedly wrote prescriptions for oxycodone for confidential informants and undercover agents of the DEA in exchange for cash on at least eight occasions. In each instance, he allegedly failed to provide any treatment or perform any medical exam prior to providing the prescriptions. It is alleged that Esposito typically charged $90 to write an oxycodone prescription for 120 pills of 30 milligrams.
Esposito was arrested on Feb. 16, 2012, when special agents of the DEA and detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice executed a search warrant at his office. After his arrest, Esposito’s New Jersey CDS registration was immediately suspended by the Division of Consumer Affairs, and he surrendered his federal registration to write prescriptions for controlled dangerous substances. On March 9, 2012, Esposito’s medical license was suspended by the State Board of Medical Examiners, and it remains suspended indefinitely. Esposito was initially lodged in the Morris County Jail, but he was freed after posting $75,000 bail.
Raju was arrested on March 6, 2012. He is also free on $75,000 bail.
Under New Jersey law, second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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