Oxycodone ring run out of ice cream truck busted

The News Leader

March 17, 2011 11:24:19 AM PDT
A neighborhood ice cream truck turned out to be a front for illegally selling oxycodone, authorities said on Thursday.

Thirty-one people were indicted, accused in an extensive drug trafficking ring that pumped nearly 43,000 pills worth $1 million onto the black market over the course of one year.

According to prosecutors, between July 2009 and June 2010, Louis Scala and Joseph Zaffuto, the leaders of the organization, obtained fraudulent prescriptions through Nancy Wilkins, who worked as an office manager for a Manhattan orthopedic surgeon.

Zaffuto was a patient of the physician and met Wilkins during an office visit, officials said.

Wilkins, the alleged lynchpin of the scheme, stole prescription pads from the office without the physician's knowledge and sold the sheets to Scala and Zaffuto in exchange for cash payments.

Recruits would then fill the prescriptions and deliver the drugs to Scala, who worked as an ice cream truck driver.

As he made his regular rounds with his Lickety Split ice cream truck on Staten Island, officials said Scala would stop on prearranged blocks where he knew his oxycodone customers would be waiting. After serving ice cream to whatever children appeared, Scala would invite the adult pill customers, who were typically sitting in nearby cars, to climb inside his truck and complete their transactions.

This case comes as New York City finds itself in a dangerous drug epidemic, with statistics showing skyrocketing rates of illegal prescription drug abuse. Staten Island is the borough most inundated with oxycodone, with a prescription rate that could supply 28 percent of the population with the drug.