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Feds: Doc wrote prescriptions for oxycodone ring

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST : With scripts written by a Montclair doctor, a ring of dealers — including a retired Newark police officer — collected and distributed oxycodone for hundreds of thousands of dollars, until DEA agents scooped them up early this morning, federal authorities said.

Dr. Michael F. Durante, 56, of Montclair, took cash payments and other perks in exchange for writing the prescriptions, filled at various North Jersey pharmacies, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.

The buyers then either sold the oxycodone pills themselves or passed them on to other dealers for distribution, he said.

“Doctors who illegally prescribe are often the first link in a chain of addiction and suffering,” Fishman said. “Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem in this country, and it is not acceptable when those we look to for healing divert drugs into our neighborhoods for cash and favors.”

Of a dozen defendants charged, all but one were rousted this morning and arrested by the DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad — among them, Michael J. Corrao, 22, of Allendale.

The twelfth, 46-year-old Andre Domando, is hospitalized and will be arrested once he is released, authorities said.

All had hearings scheduled this afternoon in Newark.

They include:

Lawrence J. Gebo, 62, Tristen M. Ambrosino, 27, and Daniel J. Lally, 28, of Belleville;

Martin P. Rinaldi, 63, and Marianna Colucci, 56, of
Bloomfield;

Michael P. Scherer, 51, of Montclair;

Melvin Fernandez, 27, Gregory Gavini, 33, and Brian J. Renkart, 39, of Harrison;

Going back at least to January 2010, Durante wrotre prescriptions for the defendants in exchange for cash — and, in Geblo‘s case, police cards that are ordinarily reserved for relatives of law enforcement officers, Fishman said.

One time, Durante prescribed more than 1,000 pills over 10 day for Domando, he said.

The scheme fell apart when an undercover DEA agent bought prescriptions from Durante, court papers show.

Durante “instructed the undercover to bring the prescriptions to different pharmacies to avoid detection,” Fishman said.

The agent taped Durante saying that the pills could be resold for 1,000 to $1,200 a bottle, guaranteeing the dealers $20,000 a month in income, according to a federal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Newark.

Fishman credited the New Jersey DEA Tactical Diversion Squad, along with the FBI and IRS and local officers from Newark, Elizabeth, Clinton, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office and Deputy U.S. Marshals, who assisted in the arrests.

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