Acting Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a pharmacist and a doctor based in Madison were sentenced today for conspiring 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 sentenced today to three years of probation and 500 hours of community service by Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto.
The judge also ordered that his driver’s license be suspended for six months.
Raju was found guilty at trial on June 3 by a Morris County jury of conspiracy and illegal distribution of oxycodone, both in the third degree.
The Attorney General’s Office recommended that Raju be sentenced to 364 days in jail, but the judge sentenced him to one day in jail, which he already had served at the time of his arrest. Raju previously agreed to a voluntary suspension of his pharmacist license, which currently is pending.
The doctor, Vincent A. Esposito, 58, of Madison, a former borough councilman who had his medical office at 322 Main Street in Madison, was sentenced today by Judge Ahto to two years of probation and 250 hours of community service.
The judge also sentenced him to the single day in jail that he served at the time of his arrest. Esposito pleaded guilty on Dec. 17, 2013 to second-degree conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. He permanently surrendered his medical license in New Jersey and cooperated in the trial of Raju.
Judge Ahto ordered that both men perform their community service by volunteering in connection with drug addiction services, if possible.
The joint investigation revealed that Esposito prescribed oxycodone to people he did not treat or examine, and, in some cases, never saw at all. He had the individuals fill the prescriptions at Bottle Hill Pharmacy, where Raju was pharmacist.
At Raju’s trial, the state presented testimony and evidence 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 person 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.
Acting Attorney General Porrino commended the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for their investigation. He also thanked the Madison Borough Police Department and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office for their assistance in the investigation.
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.