By John Burton
TRENTON – A Fair Haven resident, who was a physician with an office in Little Silver, could be sentenced in January to a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine, after admitting she was part of a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone illegally.
Jacqueline Lopresti, 52, pleaded guilty on Oct. 22 before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson to one count of conspiracy to distribute the pain medication, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Lopresti is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 30 in Trenton.
Her medical license was suspended May 26, 2011, by the state Department of Law and Public Safety’s Division of Consumer Affairs.
Oxycodone is an active ingredient in such brand name drugs as Oxcontin, Roxicodone and Percocet, with authorities labeling it a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a potential for abuse and could lead to psychological or physical abuse, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
In 2011 Lopresti, a licensed doctor of osteopathy with an office on Prospect Avenue, Little Silver, was one of 22 co-defendants charged with perpetrating the conspiracy going back to at least January 2009, federal law enforcement authorities alleged.
At the time of their arrest, federal authorities said Lopresti and Hassan Lahham, a New York City doctor, would write prescriptions for the drug not for any valid medical purpose. Those receiving the prescriptions would fill them at pharmacies in Monmouth, Ocean and Atlantic counties, with the co-conspirators allegedly selling the pills.
According to the criminal complaint, federal authorities charged that Lopresti and Lahham wrote several thousand of the unlawful prescriptions, charging between $150-$250 for each one.
Agents for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) conducted what the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2011 said was an extensive investigation using video and audio recordings, reviews of pharmacy records and interviews with drug buyers and sellers familiar with the operation. A DEA agent had posed as a potential customer to obtain one of the illegal prescriptions from Lopresti, the U.S. Attorney said last year.
Lahham was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 17 and entered a not guilty plea when he was arraigned on May 23. A jury trial is scheduled to begin in federal court in Trenton on Feb. 11, according to Matthew Reilly, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.