Oxycodone crackdown nets doctor, 11 others in NJ

March 24, 2011 2:16:15 PM PDT
A doctor is one of a dozen people arrested in New Jersey as part of an oxycodone crackdown.

Authorities said internal medicine specialist Dr. Michael F. Durante, 56, of Montclair, allegedly wrote illegal prescriptions for oxycodone.

Durante was charged along with Andre Domando, 46, of Nutley; Lawrence J. Gebo, 62, Tristen M. Ambrosino, 27, and Daniel J. Lally, 28, of Belleville; Matin P. Rinaldi, 63, and Marianna Colucci, 56, of Bloomfield; Michael P. Scherer, 51, of Montclair; Melvin Fernandez, 27, Gregory Gavini, 33, and Brian J. Renkart, 39, of Harrison; and Michael J. Corrao, 22, of Allendale.

Oxycodone is the active ingredient in brand name pills such as Oxycontin, Roxicodone and Percocet. It has a high potential for abuse.

Authorities said Durante issued prescriptions to co-conspirators for drugs containing oxycodone,

The prescriptions were filled at various pharmacies located in and around Essex County, and redistributed by others

Renkart also supplied oxycodone pills for distribution to co-conspirators.

Durante wrote the prescriptions in exchange for cash payments and items of value. At one time prescribing Domando more than 1,000 pills in a 10-day period.

One of those arrested, Lawrence J. Gebo, is a retired Newark police officer. He allegedly plotted to provide Durante and one of his family members with "gold" Fraternal Order of Police cards, which typically are reserved for the immediate family members of police officers.

Authorities said Durante also provided excessive prescriptions for oxycodone in exchange for cash, including from an undercover DEA agent he believed to be a patient. Durante knew the pills were to be redistributed, and instructed the undercover to bring the prescriptions to different pharmacies to avoid detection.

Durante was recorded discussing the street cost of the medication he was prescribing, prosecutorss said. For example, he told a co-conspirator that the pills would resell for from $1,000 to $1,200 per bottle, and that - based on the number of prescriptions Durante was providing - the individual should be realizing a $20,000 monthly income.

Durante and the others face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted.

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