An area doctor and Fair Haven native and resident who pleaded guilty in federal court is facing up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for her alleged role in a major oxycodone distribution ring.
Jacqueline LoPresti, 52, entered her guilty plea this week before Judge Freda L. Wolfson to writing “illegal prescriptions for oxycodone … and admitted to participating in a conspiracy to distribute the medication illegally,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said in a released statement.
LoPresti has been charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and 11 counts of distribution of oxycodone.
The charges stem from investigation-based court documents and statements that allegedly show proof that she, in 2009, “issued prescriptions to co-conspirators for drugs containing oxycodone, outside the usual course of medical practice and not for any legitimate medical purpose.”
Those co-conspirators allegedly created a drug ring for the painkillers, using more than 20 individuals in multiple towns such as Toms River and Barnegat.
According to a U.S. District Court document, LoPresti on “or about June 27, 2009 through Sept. 7, 2009, in Monmouth County, in the District of New Jersey and elsewhere … did knowingly and intentionally conspire to distribute and possess with intent to distribute Oxycodone …”
The court document also said that proceeds from the offense, which were seized “on or about Oct. 20, 2011,” included roughly $436,000 in U.S. currency, and $29,000 in “additional proceeds.”
If those proceeds cannot be recovered, or have been placed out of jurisdiction, comingled with other property or transferred or sold, the United States will seek forfeiture of LoPresti’s property in order to compensate for the loss, the document, signed by Fishman, said.
Initial reports in May of 2011 said that LoPresti, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, and New York doctor Hassan Lahham allegedly conspired and were initially charged with illegally writing more than 6,000 prescriptions for more than 500,000 oxycodone tablets.
According to the initial report of the charges leveled against LoPresti, patients allegedly gave cash only payments in exchange for prescriptions the need for which were not accounted for in office paperwork. The drugs obtained from the allegedly illegal prescriptions were then “filled at various pharmacies located in and around Monmouth, Ocean, and Atlantic counties, NJ and redistributed by others,” the U.S. Attorney’s statement said.
Oxycodone is a Schedule II narcotic, the active ingredient of which is in brand name pills such as Oxycontin, Roxicodone and Percocet, the U.S. Attorney statement explained.
The designation of a Schedule II controlled substance indicates that a drug has “a high potential for abuse … and abuse of the drug may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence,” the statement said.
Investigating the LoPresti case were: The NJ Drug Enforcement Agency Tactical Diversion Squad, composed of DEA special agents, diversion investigators and intelligence analysts; FBI and IRS special agents; and law enforcement officers from the Essex County Sheriff’s Bureau of Narcotics, and Newark, Elizabeth, Clinton Township and Somerset police departments.
Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 30, 2013.