CLIFTON, N.J. -- Jurors on Thursday convicted a pharmacist from Clifton of conspiring with a doctor to sell oxycodone with bogus or no prescriptions.
Srinivasa Raju, 44, who worked at a pharmacy in Madison, was found guilty following a three-week trial in Morristown, acting state Attorney General Robert Lougy said.
The doctor, 58-year-old Vincent A. Esposito of Madison, pleaded guilty on Dec. 17, 2013 to second-degree conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. He surrendered his medical license and has been awaiting sentencing pending the outcome of Raju's trial.
Raju “pharmacist willfully participated in the illegal diversion of oxycodone, which is a primary driver in the epidemic of opiate abuse plaguing New Jersey and the U.S.,” Lougy said. “It’s completely unconscionable that licensed professionals like this pharmacist and the doctor who conspired with him would illegally peddle these addictive pills for profit, without regard to their deadly impact.”
“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," added Carl J. Kotowski, the special agent in charge of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division.
Raju and Esposition "are a prime example of the problems fueling our drug threat in the region," Kotowski said, "and we are relieved they are out of business.”
Prosecutors showed jurors how Raju provided oxycodone to certain cash-paying customers without any prescription and then had Esposito write prescriptions to cover his activity at the end of the month, Lougy noted.
Raju provided oxycodone to a drug dealer cooperating with the DEA without prescriptions three times, creating fake labels to cover up what he was doing, the attorney general said.
The labels showed an Esposito prescription because Raju knew Esposito would cover for him, he said.
Raju also sold oxycodone to an undercover DEA agent three different times, Lougy said.
The agent gave him blank prescriptions, after which Raju called the dealer to ask how much he wanted, the attorney general said.
The dosage was usually about 30 milligram -- extremely potent. Most doctors prescribed 5 to 10 milligrams, Lougy noted.
Esposito typically charged $90 to write an oxycodone prescription for 120 pills, he said.
Deputy Attorneys General Brandy Malfitano and Jamie Picard tried the case for the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau following a joint investigation of the DCJ and DEA.
Raju's sentencing was scheduled for July 7.
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