FREEHOLD – A suspended Middletown physician admitted Monday his involvement in a prescription painkiller ring, writing fraudulent prescriptions for opiates on prescription blanks he had created in another doctor’s name, all while he was suspended from practicing medicine in New Jersey, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Dr. Kenneth Lewandowski, 53, of Tatum Drive in Middletown, pleaded guilty Monday before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley to second degree Distribution/Dispensing Oxycodone and third degree Unlawful Practice of Medicine.
Lewandowski is scheduled to return to Judge Oxley’s courtroom for sentencing on April 15, 2016. As part of his plea agreement, the State will recommend that Lewandowski receive a sentence of six years in a New Jersey state prison with a discretionary 2-year parole stipulation on the second degree charge, and a concurrent 3-year sentence on the third degree charge. Additionally, Lewandowski will permanently forfeit his license to practice medicine.
“Dr. Lewandowski and others like him are directly responsible for breathing renewed life into the deadly epidemic of prescription opiates and heroin abuse that is killing people across the country. These actions are a perversion of the special duty of care we place in the hands of our medical professionals. This is an affront to us all – a parasitic doctor choosing profit in exchange for opiates enslavement that could lead to death,” Gramiccioni said.
In pleading guilty, Lewandowski admitted that after his license to practice medicine in New Jersey was suspended, he obtained blank prescription pads in the name of another doctor with whom he was discussing going into business with sometime in November 2014. After he picked up the blank prescription pads, Lewandowski he gave a portion of them to his office manager/co-defendant, Thomas Menendez. Menendez is charged with selling the blank prescription pads to Lewandowski’s former patients so they could obtain prescription painkillers.
Lewandowski admitted that he personally forged prescriptions in the other doctor’s name to four of his former patients who ultimately obtained 120 oxycodone pills each. Lewandowski also admitted to signing the other doctor’s name without his permission, and indicated that the other doctor had never treated these patients.
“Many in our families and communities are fighting for their lives against this deadly prescription painkiller and heroin epidemic. The very professionals we entrust to heal and treat our citizens cannot feed off the victims and addictions they helped perpetuate. We will aggressively investigate and prosecute any medical professionals who profit off the enslavement of prescription drug addiction,” Gramiccioni added.
Menendez, of Geary Drive in Middletown, is awaiting trial. He is charged with second degree Conspiracy, third degree Unlawful Practice of Medicine, second degree Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (oxycodone), third degree Forgery and third degree Uttering a Forged Document.
Lewandowski was arrested on Dec. 18, 2014 as part of a joint investigation into a suspected prescription drug ring involving Lewandowski, Menendez and others. The joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, the Middletown Police Department and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) learned that Lewandowski, whose license to practice medicine and surgery was under a temporary suspension, conspired with his former office manager, Menendez, to sell forged prescription blanks for Oxycodone.
The pair obtained prescription pads in the name of a licensed doctor without consent and then sold the prescription blanks for cash without any type of medical needs assessment. Lewandowski’s old patient files from his now defunct pain management practice in Red Bank were utilized to find subjects eager to purchase the forged prescriptions for a price of $300 to $400 per prescription. The prescriptions themselves were filled out in the name of the licensed doctor without his knowledge. Lewandowski also conspired with Ronald Scott, a 65-year-old physician’s assistant from Toms River, who wrote prescriptions for Lewandowski’s former patients without the approval of a licensed physician.
The Middletown Police began its investigation after receiving information from a local pharmacy that a subject presented a fraudulent prescription attempting to obtain Oxycodone on November 24, 2014. That investigation resulted in information being developed implicating numerous patients, as well as Lewandowski and Menendez being involved in the unlawful distribution and dispensing of Oxycodone.
Investigators from DCA also received a complaint from the licensed doctor that the prescriptions being utilized by the prescription drug ring were issued without his knowledge. Investigators quickly identified Lewandowski and Menendez as the people behind the prescription drug ring. They utilized the cover of opening a legitimate medical clinic to dupe the unsuspecting doctor into releasing the personal information necessary for them to complete the forgery of prescription blanks in his name.
During the search of Lewandowski’s residence, numerous forged prescription pads, medical records and cash were recovered.
The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Paul Alexander, of the Office’s Narcotics and Criminal Enterprises Unit.
Lewandowski is represented by George J. Mardinly, Esq., of Rumson.
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