Friday, March 22, 2013
 

 

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Major oxycodone trafficking ring in NYC and Hudson Valley smashed

NEW YORK – A major oxycodone trafficking ring that used forged prescriptions to obtain and sell thousands of painkillers, which were valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, in New York City and the Hudson Valley, was broken up. Ringleader John Bland, a/k/a “Nugget,” 49, of the Bronx – has been indicted and charged with more than 30 felony counts, including Operating as a Major Trafficker. If convicted, Bland faces a sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. In addition, five of Bland’s accomplices were also arrested this week and charged with seven felony counts. If convicted, each of the accomplices faces up to 9 years in prison.

According to the charges, Bland supplied forged prescriptions to his accomplices, who used them at pharmacies throughout New York City and the Hudson Valley. Bland would contact his accomplices and arrange to pick them up in a rental vehicle. He would drive them around to various pharmacies throughout Manhattan, Kings, Queens, the Bronx, Orange and Dutchess counties. Once at the pharmacies, he would provide his accomplices with forged prescriptions in their respective names and enough cash to pay for the drugs. Once the prescription was successfully filled, the accomplice would hand the drugs over to Bland. Bland paid the accomplices fees between $150 and $400 for the pills and sold them in bulk to other drug dealers.

Bland’s indictment was the result of an investigation conducted by the New York State Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the NYC Human Resources Administration, Investigation, Revenue & Enforcement Administration, which had been jointly investigating the group for submitting forged oxycodone prescriptions at pharmacies in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Dutchess County and Orange County.

Bland was arraigned in Orange County Court on an indictment charging him with a long list of felonies, including operating as major trafficker; 16 counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree; 9 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree; and conspiracy in the second degree.

Five of Bland’s accomplices were also arrested and face various felony charges: Carl Canty, 49; Paul Perez, 42; Mario Aragona, 49; Michelle Kaplan, 42; and Kimberly Augustus, 31, all of the Bronx.

“My office will do everything in its power to crack down on the criminals who use fake prescriptions to fuel dangerous addictions and illegally traffic in prescription narcotics,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. “Cases like this are exactly why my office fought to pass New York’s historic I-STOP prescription drug abuse prevention law. Illegally profiting off the addiction and suffering of others is a crime, and the kingpin of this operation and his accomplices will now be held accountable.”