NJ pharmacist admits selling pain-killers to addicts with fake prescriptions
CAMDEN—A Burlington County pharmacist could face more than $1 million in fines for helping sell large quantities of painkillers to people with fake prescriptions, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
David Goldfield, 58, of Medford Lakes, pleaded guilty in federal court to an indictment charging him with conspiracy to illegally dispense oxycodone and other Schedule II controlled substances, and five counts of illegal distribution of oxycodone, the U.S. Attorney's Office for New Jersey said Thursday.
The guilty plea comes six weeks after Goldfield and his boss, 44-year-old Medford resident Michael Ludwikowski, were arrested. Federal authorities said Goldfield admitted to conspiring from January 2010 through August 2013 with Ludwikowski, the owner of Olde Medford Pharmacy and Medford Family Pharmacy, to fill fake oxycodone prescriptions for customers who "they knew were obtaining the pain killers for resale or for non-medical use."
The pharmacist, according to federal prosecutors, ignored multiple "red flags" that made it obvious that many of the prescriptions the men filled were fake, including that:
- Prescriptions had been "washed" or "bleached" to remove the original writing for a non-narcotic substance, and customers then rewrote the prescriptions for their drug of choice.
- Customers with residential addresses far from the Medford area, including Camden, frequented the pharmacies.
- The same customers presented oxycodone prescriptions in different names, including the names of both men and women.
- Customers presented oxycodone prescriptions for a 30-day supply multiple times a week.
One alleged customer, Patrick Clark, of Maple Shade, was a drug addict who "fed his addiction" with oxycodone he obtained from Goldfield and Ludwikowski in exchange for gifts, such as alcohol and pornography, according to court papers.
Other employees were allegedly involved in the pill-mill operation, The Courier-Post reported in November. Former employee Krystal Wood pleaded guilty in April 2015 to stealing thousands of prescription painkillers and profiting more than $32,000 from their sale. The Pemberton woman and recovering drug addict, who worked at the Olde Medford Pharmacy from August 2013 through May 2013, relapsed after abusing oxycodone she obtained from the store, according to court papers.
Goldfield told authorities that he expressed suspicions to Ludwikowski about the legitimacy of certain prescriptions, but his boss told him to fill them anyway.
When Ludwikowski began fretting that the high number of fake prescriptions being filled might draw law enforcement attention, the men turned away customers by saying the Drug Enforcement Administration had reduced their oxycodone supply.
The Courier-Post reported that Ludwikowski's attorney, Kevin Ballestri, told the court in November that his client, a "loving and devoted father," was the victim of extortion threats by alleged drug dealers. Ludwikowski contacted the FBI in June 2013 seeking protection, which Ballestri said set off an investigation based on “the self-serving testimony of plea-bargaining witnesses, liars, thieves, drug addicts and career criminals.”
Goldfield faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and $1 million fine for each charge brought against him when he is sentenced March 31 in Superior Court in Camden.
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