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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 14, 2006

DEA and FBI Charge Thirteen in Operation “Pill Collector”

(SEPT 14)- Newark- Gerard P. McAleer, Special Agent in Charge of the New Jersey Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration and Leslie G. Wiser, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the New Jersey Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation jointly announced that the DEA, FBI, and the Northern New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force arrested thirteen individuals, who have been charged with the illegal distribution of the prescription pain management drug OxyContin. OxyContin is a Schedule II narcotic that when properly prescribed, has legitimate pain management properties. These charges result from a long-running undercover operation code-named: "PILL COLLECTOR" which to date, has resulted in the arrests of 60 individuals involved in similar illegal conduct.

The cooperative investigation brought together all of the resources and experience of the DEA, FBI, and HIDTA in order to disrupt the ever-growing illegal market for prescription narcotics in the Northern New Jersey region. The individuals charged were part of a large distribution ring which operated in Ocean, Essex, Passaic, and Morris counties. The arrests were based on complaints filed by the Newark Divisions of the DEA and FBI.

The following individuals were charged by Federal Complaint:

Anthony Albanese, age 35 of 537 Jersey Avenue, Elizabeth, NJ
Rodrigo Bascunan, age 35 of 138 Washington Avenue, Belleville, NJ
Joseph Bruzzi, age 32, of 14 Kennedy Court, Lyndhurst, NJ
Anthony Ferrara, age 28, of 117 Heckel Street. Bellevelle, NJ
Amy Hillman, age 28, of 117 Heckel Steet. Belleville, NJ
Merle Freeland, age 45 of 31 Hawthorne Lane, Newark, NJ
Jennifer Toro, age 24 of 17 Stone Street, Bloomfield, NJ
Laura Johnson, age 44 of 17 Stone Street, Bloomfield, NJ
Ramon Martinez, age 39, of 32 Highland Avenue, Newark, NJ
Anthony Petrillo, age 26, of 22 Vine Street, Nutley, NJ
Michael Petrillo, age 22, of 22 Vine Street, Nutley, NJ
John Terrazino, age 47, of 709 North 7th Street, Newark, NJ
Lissette Velez, age 28, of 30 Waverly Place, Passaic, NJ

The ongoing investigation has resulted in the previous arrest, in September 2005, of Dr. Joan E. Jaszczult, a Belleville, New Jersey physician, who accepted cash payments in her office in exchange for writing excessive amounts of prescriptions for OxyContin as well as for other Oxycodone-based narcotics. The individuals charged today were able to obtain the prescriptions from Dr. Jaszczult, Anthony Albanese and Anthony Ferrara in their names for non-existent medical conditions. They were also able to obtain them in the names of individuals whom the doctor had never examined, diagnosed, treated, nor otherwise met. In order to avoid detection, the cash paying "patients" utilized a large number of national and independently owned pharmacies to fill the illegally obtained prescriptions. Once in possession of the actual pills, the "patients" would sell them, for huge profits, to mid-level distributors, who would then further distribute them for additional profits.

The investigation is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey headed by United States Attorney Christopher J. Christie. Jonathan Romankow is the Assistant United States Attorney who will represent the Government. The initial appearance will be at approximately 2:00 pm, this afternoon in Newark at the United States District Court, District of New Jersey, in front of United States Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo.

Notwithstanding the criminal complaints, every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until being found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt following a trial at which the defendant has all of the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and Federal Law.

The Federal Complaints charge the defendants with conspiracy and distribution of a Schedule II narcotic. If convicted of the above charges, each defendant faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in Federal Prison and $1,000,000 fine.

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