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Drug Topics provides special coverage on pharmacy crimes involving the painkiller oxycodone. Discover what has happened recently in the news and current statistics of oxycodone trafficking offenses.
Former New Jersey pharmacist-in-charge, Leonard “Lenny” Stefanelli, 49, of West Orange Pharmacy pleaded guilty Friday, January 24, to charges of illegal sales of hundreds of oxycodone tablets in exchange for thousands of dollars of cash and for submitting fraudulent bills to insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicaid, over two decades.
Stefanelli, of East Hanover, N.J., has agreed to forfeit $1.5 million of illegal profits from the illegal oxycodone dispensing and healthcare fraud scheme, according to U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.
His partners in crime were twin brothers-Robert Carlucci, 70, and William Carlucci, 70, of Florham Park, N.J.-who pleaded guilty last August to committing healthcare fraud, by submitting fraudulent bills to insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicaid, and for cheating pharmacy customers by underfilling prescriptions, substituting generic drugs without patient consent and billing for brand-name drugs, and filling outstanding refills without patients’ knowledge and billing insurers for the refills.
Sentencing of Leonard Stefanelli is scheduled for April 30, with a potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. The Carlucci brothers’ sentencing is scheduled for February 27, with a potential penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The Carlucci men agreed to pay restitution of $1.5 million.
Drug trafficking offenses involving oxycodone have climbed from 2008 to 2012 in the United States. In 2012, there were 840 oxycodone offenders, up from 218 in 2008, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
In 2012, the top five districts where oxycodone traffickers were apprehended were Eastern District of Kentucky, Southern District of Florida, Eastern District of Tennessee, Middle District of Florida, and Southern District of West Virginia. Most oxycodone traffickers were imprisoned with an average sentence of 57 months (range: <5 years to 10 or more years).
“The average guideline minimum [sentence] for oxycodone traffickers generally has increased for the past five years, and the average sentence imposed has similarly increased,” according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
“The average guideline minimum increased from 67 to 80 months during that period. The average sentence imposed increased from 47 to 57 months,” the commission stated.
In 2012, more than 75% of the oxycodone traffickers who were convicted were male. Two-thirds of the oxycodone offenders were white, 22.6% were black, 8.2% were Hispanic, and 2.3% were classified as other races. Most were U.S. citizens, whose average age was 37 years. Half of them had little or no prior criminal convictions.