Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy announced that a pharmacist who operated in Madison, was convicted at trial of conspiring with a doctor to illegally distribute the highly addictive painkiller oxycodone to individuals who received prescriptions from the doctor without being treated or examined, or who had no prescriptions.
Srinivasa Raju, 44, of Clifton, who operated as a pharmacist at Bottle Hill Pharmacy in Madison, was found guilty yesterday afternoon by a Morris County jury of third-degree counts of conspiracy and distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, namely oxycodone.
The verdict followed a three-week trial before Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto in Morristown.
Deputy Attorneys General Brandy Malfitano and Jamie Picard tried the case for the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
Raju was indicted in 2013 in an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.
Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Sentencing for Raju is scheduled for July 7.
The doctor, Vincent A. Esposito, 58, of Madison, a former borough councilman who had his medical office at 322 Main Street in Madison, pleaded guilty on Dec. 17, 2013 to second-degree conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. He surrendered his medical license and is awaiting sentencing.
The state presented testimony and evidence at trial that Raju provided oxycodone to certain cash-paying customers without any prescription and then had Esposito write prescriptions to cover his activity at the end of the month. Raju provided oxycodone to a cooperating source for the DEA on three occasions without prescriptions, knowing the cooperating source was a drug dealer. Raju would create fake labels for the pill bottle to cover the fact that he was dispensing without a prescription. The labels showed an Esposito prescription because Raju knew Esposito would write prescriptions to cover his activity.
In addition, Raju distributed oxycodone to an undercover DEA agent on three occasions. The agent provided a blank prescription on one occasion, and she provided fake prescriptions on two other occasions. Raju believed the undercover agent was assisting the cooperating source who was a drug dealer. When the agent provided Raju with the blank prescriptions, he called the drug dealer to ask him how much oxycodone he wanted. He then gave that amount to the undercover DEA agent.
The pills that were illegally distributed by Esposito and Raju were usually 30 milligram pills of oxycodone. Thirty milligrams is a very high dose of the potent narcotic painkiller, which is usually prescribed in doses of 5 or 10 milligrams. Esposito typically charged $90 to write an oxycodone prescription for 120 pills of 30 milligrams.
Esposito was arrested on Feb. 16, 2012, when DEA special agents and detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice executed a search warrant at his office. Raju was arrested on March 6, 2012.