A Toms River man is being sought for his alleged role in a multi-state scam to distribute prescription drugs, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced today.
Kyle Skora, 31, is one of 22 defendants named in a criminal complaint that charges two physicians and others with conspiracy to possess and distribute oxycodone, according to a news release and complaint released by the U.S. Attorney's Office. Additionally, Toms River resident Wendy Galati, 43, is among those charged in the ring that was allegedly led by a Barnegat man.
Officials said that since at least as early as January 2009, Christopher Erwin, 47, of Barnegat and other co-conspirators received illegal prescriptions from Dr. Jacqueline Lopresti, 50, of Fair Haven and Dr. Hassan Lahham, 53, of New York, in exchange for cash.
Erwin and others then paid people to pose as patients and fill the prescriptions in and around Ocean, Monmouth and Atlantic counties, the release said, and defendants then redistributed and sold the pills.
The complaints allege that Erwin and other co-defendants paid the fake customers and drug runners in cash and with pills and sold the rest of the tablets.
The defendants each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail and up to a $1 million fine.
Oxycodone, generic for the brand-name drugs Oxycontin, Roxicodone and Percocet, is a Schedule II controlled substance, the release said. That means it’s currently accepted for medical use with severe restrictions based on its high potential for abuse and ability to lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
“Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the country,” Fishman said. “It is particularly troubling to find doctors so complicit in this epidemic. We trust our doctors to heal our bodies, not poison our communities. We can’t and we shouldn’t put up with those we count on for our well being to make a fast buck peddling pills.”
“Our commitment to the citizens of New Jersey is to protect them from legal controlled substances which help people daily but may fall into the illicit market for drug traffickers,” said Brian R. Crowell, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA New Jersey Division, in the release. “Let’s be perfectly clear: everyone arrested today is an alleged drug trafficker. We will not tolerate or accept this illegal behavior, and we will bring justice to all that condone this type of practice.”
The full list of defendants named in the complaints is as follows:
- Christopher Erwin, 47, Barnegat, N.J.; arrested
- Jacqueline Lopresti, 50, Fair Haven, N.J.; arrested
- Hassan Lahham, 53, New York, N.Y.; at large
- Ahmed Shaker, 54, Clifton, N.J.; at large
- Stephen Sampson, 50, Manahawkin, N.J.; arrested
- James Baker, 49, Forked River, N.J.; arrested
- Alex Bushman, 45, Manahawkin, N.J.; arrested
- Ray DiFabio, 55, Barnegat, N.J.; arrested
- Heather Dockery, 26, Barnegat, N.J.; at large
- Wendy Galati, 43, Toms River, N.J.; arrested
- Ed Gural, 35, Barnegat, N.J.; arrested
- Donald Johnson, 30, Barnegat, N.J.; at large
- Bryan Lewicki, 34, Barnegat, N.J.; arrested
- Gregory Mann, 48, Surf City, N.J.; arrested
- Gary Morrill-Carpenter, 44, West Creek, N.J.; arrested
- Carter Nies, 34, Barnegat, N.J.; arrested
- Theodore Pohlig, 45, Little Egg Harbor, N.J.; in custody on
- separate state charges
- Jonathan Puggi, 33, Little Egg Harbor, N.J.; arrested
- Henry Shubert, Jr., 41, Waretown, N.J.; arrested
- Kyle Skora, 31, Toms River, N.J.; at large
- Crescenzo Terranova, 49, Little Egg Harbor, N.J.; arrested
- Robert Walton, III, 53, Manahawkin, N.J.; arrested