EXCLUSIVE: Four members of a large-scale prescription fraud ring used the names of five legitimate doctors from North Jersey and Rockland County whose signatures were forged, an indictment returned by a Bergen County grand jury alleges.
The four were in the middle of a series of buys at a local pharmacy using forged signatures of physicians from Rutherford, Saddle River and Secaucus when they were snatched up in July, according to the 19-count indictment filed in Superior Court in Hackensack.
Rochelle Park Detective Jim DePreta said he and fellow investigator Chris Bermudez spotted them while passing area pharmacies on the lookout for suspicious people.
“They were parked in the CVS lot, but they were walking back and forth on Rochelle Avenue,” DePreta told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
One of them had already filled a prescription for a three-month supply of Oxycontin when another man entered the pharmacy, the detective said.
“They basically exchanged places,” he said.
Suspecting fraud, the pharmacist declined to fill the second script. The detectives then grabbed the would-be customer, 35-year-old Lamont Dean of Garfield (above: middle) , on his way out the door.
DePreta, Bermudez and four uniformed officers converged on the other three in the CVS lot.
One of those arrested, Kinner Harris, 44, of Elizabeth (above, left) , was the mastermind of the group, DePreta said.
Harris — who already was facing charges out of Union County for distributing heroin and prescription pills — provided the scripts, the detective said.
“The others provided the manpower,” he said.
Harris sat in one vehicle in the lot, communicating via cellphone with Blerim Krasniqi, 35, of Garfield (above, top) , who was in the other car with the “runners,” DePreta said.
The runners’ job was to fill the prescriptions and give them to Krasniqi in exchange for a couple hundred dollars, he said.
DePreta said he then passed them to Harris, who sold the drugs for $10-$20 a pill. At that rate, they could fetch upwards of $2,400 for a 120-day supply.
Although the prescriptions themselves had genuine physicians’ names on them, the listed call numbers came back to pre-paid phones, DePreta told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
“It was a pretty sophisticated operation,” he said.
Harris, who was initially charged with being a leader of organized crime, has remained free on $50,000 bail since July 25, two weeks after the bust.
Krasniqi, Dean and a fourth man, 29-year-old David Buczek of Passaic, were released on summonses.
Buczek was arrested on burglary charges a month later in Garfield and released on $5,000 bail. That case is pending, as well.
The indictment returned Friday charges the four with various drug- and fraud-related charges. They first hit the Rochelle Park pharmacy on April 6 and then returned on June 16 and July 11, when they were arrested, it says.
In addition to the other physicians, the indictment charges, the crew had forged signatures of doctors from Nyack, N.Y. and West Orange.
STORY: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
MUGSHOTS: Courtesy ROCHELLE PARK PD (Kinner Harris, left. Top to bottom: Blerim Krasniqi, Lamont Dean, David Buczek)
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