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Press Release

Hudson County Woman and Essex County Man Admit Roles in Oxycodone Distribution Ring

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – A Hudson County, New Jersey, woman and an Essex County, New Jersey, man have admitted their respective roles in a conspiracy to illegally obtain and distribute oxycodone, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.


Rhonda Musallam, 41, of Fairview, New Jersey, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court to a superseding information charging her with one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. On Aug. 15, 2017, Robert O’Brien, 60, of Bloomfield, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before Judge Salas to an indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.


Of the 16 people that were charged in this conspiracy, 15 have been convicted, including the leader, Victoria Horvath, who was sentenced Oct. 20, 2016, to 92 months in prison. Charges against the 16th defendant were dismissed after his death in April 2015.


According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:


Using confidential sources, surveillance, and recorded text messages and telephone calls, investigators with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) discovered that members and suppliers of a drug-trafficking organization secured prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances from various doctors in New Jersey, filled them at pharmacies in Belleville and elsewhere, and sold the drugs for a profit. The investigation identified O’Brien and Musallam as members of the drug trafficking organization.


Musallam admitted that from June 10, 2014, to July 18, 2014, she supplied members of the conspiracy and others with oxycodone pills. She said that on a day in June 2014 she sold 70 oxycodone-containing pills conspirators in exchange for $1,000.


O’Brien admitted that from Feb. 5, 2014, to Aug. 13, 2014, he obtained and paid for filled prescriptions of oxycodone-containing pills on behalf of members of the conspiracy. He said that on a day in May 2014 he purchased a filled prescription for oxycodone-containing pills from a New Jersey pharmacy on behalf of a conspirator in exchange for 45 oxycodone-containing pills from another conspirator.


Oxycodone is a Schedule II controlled substance – meaning that it has a high potential for

abuse, it is currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions, and abuse of the drug may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.


The charges to which Musallam and O’Brien pleaded guilty carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing for Musallam is scheduled for Dec. 19, 2018, and for O’Brien is scheduled for Nov. 27, 2018.


Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited the DEA’s New Jersey Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carl J. Kotowski, with the investigation leading to the guilty pleas.


The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara F. Merin of the OCDETF/Narcotics Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.


The principal mission of the OCDETF program, under which this investigation was conducted, is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug-trafficking, weapons-trafficking and money-laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

Updated September 27, 2017

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 17-341