As New Jersey continues to wage war against a statewide heroin and prescription drug epidemic, authorities in Monmouth County have announced that a Middletown physician has been sentenced to six years in prison and will have his medical license revoked for his involvement in a prescription painkiller ring.

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Dr. Kenneth Lewandowski, 53, of Middletown, was sentenced Friday to six years in state prison, and will be ineligible for parole for at least two years according to a plea agreement.

Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley also ordered Lewandowski's license to practice medicine to be revoked. There is also a provision in the plea agreement to permanently revoke his ability to write prescriptions for controlled dangerous substances. In January, Lewandowski pleaded guilty to a second degree charge of distributing and dispensing oxycodone, as well as a third degree charge of unlawful practice of medicine.

Lewandowski operated a prescription painkiller ring by writing fraudulent prescriptions in another doctor’s name, according to Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni. In addition, the Prosecutor's Office said Lewandowski obtained blank prescription sheets from another doctor with whom he was thinking about going into business. He then gave some of the prescription sheets to his office manager, Thomas Menendez, of Middletown, who has admitted to selling some of the pulls and using some for himself as well.

Menendez has pleaded guilty to charged of distributing oxycodone, conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and unlawful practice of medicine.

In addition, authorities say Lewandowski and Melendez sold prescription blanks for cash. An investigation of his old patient records from his former pain management practice said some subjects were willing to pay for 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 prosecutor said.

The Middletown Police began its investigation in November, 2014, after a local pharmacy contacted police when someone tried to fulfill a fraudulent oxycodone prescription.

“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.

Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at toniann.antonelli@townsquaremedia.com, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.

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