Members of an alleged prescription drug ring that illegally distributed thousands of pills in Toms River and elsewhere in New Jersey were indicted last week, according to the state attorney general’s office.
Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced the indictment Feb. 14 of an alleged ringleader, a doctor and a pharmacist in connection with a narcotics ring that defrauded Medicaid and distributed black market prescription pain pills such as OxyContin and Percocet in Hudson, Bergen, Monmouth and Ocean counties.
The state indictment describes three North Jersey men as key figures in the ring: Dr. Clifton Howell of West Orange, Pharmacist Amir Tadros of Jersey City, and alleged leader Louis Lisi of Union City. Thirty other individuals were part of the conspiracy the state attorney general’s office is calling “Operation MedScam.”
“We charge that these three men and their co-conspirators were responsible, on a weekly basis, for distributing thousands of dangerous narcotic pills across four New Jersey counties,” said Attorney General Dow in a prepared statement. “Through this joint investigation with the Jersey City Police Department, we moved aggressively to shut down this ring and bring its members to justice.”
The indictment refers to incidents in Toms River, as well as Keyport, without going into further detail on where in town or when specifically between April 2008 and Feb. 2010 the activity occurred.
Most of the charges stem from alleged activity in North Jersey pharmacies, but describe an enterprise where leaders managed dozens of subordinate members in the transportation and distribution of prescription narcotics, including Oxycodone and Percocet, across New Jersey, said the attorney general's office.
Among the charges: racketeering, conspiracy, second- and third-degree narcotics offenses, employing a juvenile in a drug distribution scheme, endangering the welfare of a child, health care claims fraud, Medicaid fraud, forgery, and money laundering. Lisi is also charged with being a leader of a narcotics trafficking network.
“We are seeing more of these complex cases involving doctors and pharmacists who conspire with drug dealers to defraud Medicaid and supply street-level distribution rings,” said Director Taylor. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to detect and prosecute these criminal networks.”
The indictment alleges that between April 2008 and February 2010, Lisi, Howell and Tadros conspired with more than 30 others in an enterprise that unlawfully distributed prescription narcotics.
The indictment stems from an ongoing investigation, a collaboration between the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Jersey City Police Department’s Special Investigation Unit.
Previously, another ringleader, two other pharmacists and 28 street-level drug dealers have already pleaded guilty in the case, with arrests in 2009 and 2010, according to the attorney general's office. A second doctor, Magdy Elamir, 57, of Saddle Brook, was indicted on July 15, 2010. The case against Elamir is pending.