Former Office Manager Pleads Guilty to His Role in Prescription Drug Ring
FREEHOLD – A suspended Middletown physician was sentenced to six years in New Jersey state prison. The former doctor operated a prescription painkiller ring by writing fraudulent prescriptions in another doctor’s name. A co-defendant also pleaded guilty, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Dr. Kenneth Lewandowski, 53, of Tatum Drive in Middletown, was sentenced Friday to six years in state prison with a 2-year period of parole ineligibility, in accordance with a plea agreement entered before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley. Judge Oxley also ordered Lewandowski’s license to practice medicine be revoked, including a provision to permanently revoke his ability to write prescriptions for controlled dangerous substances. Lewandowski pleaded guilty in January to second degree Distribution/Dispensing Oxycodone and third degree Unlawful Practice of Medicine.
“Let this be a reminder to other doctors who seek to travel the same route as Dr. Lewandowski. There is an epidemic of prescription opiates and heroin abuse that is killing people across the country and it is a priority for law enforcement across Monmouth County,” Gramiccioni said.
Lewandowski admitted that after his license to practice medicine in New Jersey was suspended, he obtained blank prescription sheets in the name of another doctor with whom he was discussing going into business. After he picked up the other doctor’s blank prescription sheets, Lewandowski gave a portion of them to his office manager/co-defendant, Thomas Menendez.
Additionally, Menendez admitted he would then sell the pills to other people or use them himself. He also acknowledged that he was stopped and found in possession of the oxycodone in Middletown Township after obtaining them from the person.
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.
Menendez, of Geary Drive in Middletown, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second degree Distribution/Dispensing of Oxycodone, third degree Unlawful Practice of Medicine, and third degree Conspiracy to Distribute Oxycodone.
In pleading guilty, Menendez admitted he sold forged prescriptions for oxycodone to people in Monmouth County to Lewandowski’s former patients so they could obtain prescription painkillers. He also indicated he forged the name of the licensed doctor. He also admitted he paid another person to obtain an oxycodone prescription from a licensed doctor with the agreement that this person would give him half the pills after he filled the prescription.
Lewandowski and Menendez were arrested as part of a joint investigation into a suspected prescription drug ring involving the two men and others. The joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Middletown Police Department and New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) discovered that Lewandowski, whose license to practice medicine and surgery was under a temporary suspension, conspired with 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.
The case was handled by 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.
Menendez is represented by Patrick C. O’Hara, Esq. of Flemington.
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