Medford pharmacist convicted for narcotics distribution
Pushing oxycodone under the counter, for at least five years, potentially sends a Medford pharmacist to prison, for up to 120 years.
In a Camden fedreral courtroom, Michael Ludwikowski, 45, was convicted on five counts of illegally distributing and dispensing oxycodone, and one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises. The trial took five weeks, and jury deliberations lasted three days, according to the office of Acting New Jersey U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick.
Each charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. The five distribution counts also carry possible fines as high as $1,000,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Maintaining a drug-involved premises has a potential fine up to $500,000. At time of this brief, it was not known whether Ludwikowski's attorney would appeal the verdicts,
The finding followed guilty pleas by another pharmacist, David M. Goldfield, and Krystal Wood, both employed by Ludwikowsi, and by longstanding customes Dontees Jones, Matthew Lawson, and Patrick Clark.
Ludwikowski owned and operated Olde Medfor Pharmacy and Medford Family Pharmacy. Investigators asserted that between March 2008 and August 2013, Ludwikowski and Goldfield honored false prescriptions, in dealing oxycodone and other narcotics to customers, including addicts.
Investigators said that Ludwikowski ordered and received large shipments of 30-milligram tablets from a national distributor that set limits for individual pharmacies.
Some buyers used "washed" or "bleached" prescriptions, originally written for non-narcotic purposes but restored to a blank state chemically, and rewritten for the tablets, authorities said. They allegedly paid in cash, some several times per week, and furnished gifts for Ludwikowski and Goldfield.
Additionally, Ludwikowski and a third pharmacist whose identity was shielded, persuaded a Cherry Hill doctor to steer his patients to his pharmacies. The doctor was not identified in the brief.
"For the people of New Jersey and across the United States, the suffering, loss of life, and enormous financial losses attributed to the opioid epidemic are all too real," Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick said in prepared comments..
"In the midst of this crisis, Ludwikowski - a pharmacist who had a duty to ensure that prescription opiates were dispensed only for legitimate medical purposes - knowingly sold them to customers with fake prescriptions or to individuals whom he knew to be addicts. He didn't just fail in his professional responsibilities: he actively contributed to the opioid crisis, and as the jury decided today, broke federal laws in the process."
FBI Newark office's Special Agent Timothy Gallagher said, "Opioid and prescription drug abuse have been spreading throughout our country. We are determined to investigate and prosecute those who unlawfully distribute oxycodone within our community. Today's conviction highlights the commitment of the FBI and our partners to combat the growth of this epidemic that continues to impact our society."
"The current opioid epidemic is widespread and is tearing families apart," said Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's New Jersey Divison. "A pharmacist has a responsibility to play a role in curtailing this problem. In this case, the defendant chose to ignore that responsibility and instead was more interested in profiting on people's addictions."
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin C. Danilewitz and Sara Devlin and Senior Litigation Counsel Jason M. Richardson presented the government's case. Ludwikowski was represented by Atlantic City attorney Edwin J. Jacobs, Jr.