Pharmacist and Physician Found Guilty of Controlled Substance Conspiracy

A pharmacist has been found guilty of conspiring with a physician to provide oxycodone to patients who weren't treated or examined, or who didn't have valid prescriptions.

A pharmacist has been found guilty of conspiring with a physician to provide oxycodone to patients who weren’t treated or examined, or who didn’t have valid prescriptions.

Srinivasa Raju, 44, was a pharmacist at Bottle Hill Pharmacy in Madison, New Jersey. After a 3-week trial, a jury found him guilty of third-degree counts of conspiracy and distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, according to New Jersey’s attorney general’s office.

Back in 2013, the pharmacist was indicted in an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.

“This 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 US,” said the state’s Acting Attorney General Lougy in a press release. “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.”

Vincent A. Esposito, 58, also from Madison, New Jersey, is the physician involved in this case. Esposito, who was also a borough councilman, pleaded guilty in 2013 to second-degree conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. He has surrendered his medical license, according to the attorney general’s office.

The scheme involved Raju providing oxycodone to some patients who didn’t have prescriptions in exchange for cash. Esposito’s role was to hide this activity by writing prescriptions at the end of the month, according to the state.

Raju provided oxycodone without a prescription to a source for the DEA 3 different times. The attorney general’s office added that the pharmacist did this with the understanding that the source was a drug dealer.

Raju also gave oxycodone to an undercover DEA agent, who used 1 blank prescription and 2 fake prescriptions. The pharmacist also used fake labels on the oxycodone bottles to try to disguise his actions.

“The labels showed an Esposito prescription because Raju knew Esposito would write prescriptions to cover his activity,” the attorney general’s press release stated.

Typically, Raju dispensed 30 mg pills of oxycodone, and Esposito usually charged $90 to write a prescription for 120 pills.

The physician was arrested in February 2012, while Raju was arrested in March 2012.

Raju will be sentenced on July 7, 2016. He could serve 3 to 5 years in state prison and may be required to pay a fine of up to $15,000.

“Working with the DEA, we’re redoubling our efforts to prosecute the pharmacists, doctors, and drug dealers who run the black market for these dangerously addictive pills,” said Elie Honig, director of the state’s Division of Criminal Justice, in a press release. “This verdict sends a clear warning to other health care professionals who would consider joining this dark trade.”