North Jersey Pharmacist Admits Stealing Controlled Substances From Hospital Pharmacies
NEWARK, N.J. – A pharmacist working at two New Jersey hospitals today admitted abusing his position to tamper with and steal hundreds of vials of medication, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
John Kakowski, 29, of Jersey City, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court to a two-count information charging him with tampering with consumer products and obtaining controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.
According to the documents filed and statements made in court:
Kakowski admitted that, between 2013 and 2014, he tampered with and stole medications from one hospital by taking vials of Morphine Sulfate, Dilaudid and Fentanyl from the Pyxis machine, an automated medication dispensing system that he could access as a pharmacist. During that time, he also stole Morphine Sulfate from a second hospital by removing the vials from a cabinet that he had access to as a pharmacist. In addition, Kakawoski admitted using a needle to extract medication from the vials for his own use and then refilling them with saline solution.
The charge of tampering with a consumer product carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The charge of obtaining controlled substances by fraud carries a maximum penalty of up to four years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. No sentencing date has been set at this time.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Antoinette V. Henry, and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Esther Suarez, with the investigation leading to today’s plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle M. Corcione of the U.S. Attorney’s Health Care and Government Fraud Unit.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reorganized the health care fraud practice at the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office shortly after taking office, including creating a stand-alone Health Care and Government Fraud Unit to handle both criminal and civil investigations and prosecutions of health care fraud offenses. Since 2010, the office has recovered more than $635 million in health care fraud and government fraud settlements, judgments, fines, restitution and forfeiture under the False Claims Act, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and other statutes.
Defense counsel: Mark Musella Esq.