Morris County Doctor Accused of Giving OxyContin Prescriptions without Examining Patients
Dr. Vincent Esposito, a physician and local councilman in Madison, New Jersey, was arrested on February 16, 2012, and is accused of selling prescriptions for OxyContin to individuals that he did not treat or examine. The arrest came after a search warrant was executed by agents of the DEA and detectives of the NJ Division of Criminal Justice at the doctor’s office. Law enforcement sources have purportedly been investigating Dr. Esposito for over a year prior to his arrest. Dr. Esposito has been charged with second-degree distribution of a controlled dangerous substance and conspiracy. If convicted, he faces up to ten years in prison.
Under N.J.S. 2C:35-5, it is unlawful for any person knowingly or purposely “[t]o manufacture, distribute or dispense, or to possess or have under his control with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense, a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog.” The grading of this crime depends on various factors, including the amount of drugs involved and proximity to certain places such as schools or parks. Under the circumstances of the present case, Dr. Esposito has been charged with second degree distribution of controlled dangerous substances. Law enforcement are claiming that Dr. Esposito wrote prescriptions to undercover agents and confidential informants without examining them first, and charged $90 per prescription.
One interesting facet of this case is that it does not appear that Dr. Esposito distributed the drugs themselves; rather, Dr. Esposito allegedly distributed prescriptions that allowed the patients to purchase the drugs from pharmacies. There is case law in New Jersey that holds that possession of a CDS is not an element of distribution; therefore, it is possible for an individual to be found guilty of distributing a CDS without having it in his possession; however, that case involved a defendant who was an accessory to criminal possession of a CDS. In this case, it appears that Dr. Esposito is not an accessory to possession, because the pharmacy would not be charged with any crime since they are legally in possession of the CDS. It will be interesting to see if this defense is raised in this case and how the courts will decide the issue. Another issue is what constitutes an “examination” for purposes of writing a prescription. Dr. Esposito may have a defense that, even though he did not physically examine the CIs and undercover agents, his questioning alone was sufficient.
Anyone charged with a crime in New Jersey should contact New Jersey criminal defense lawyer Nace Naumoski for representation.
Categories: Criminal Defense