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Press Release

Buffalo Man Sentenced For Conspiring With Local Doctor Unlawfully To Obtain Drugs

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

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Benjamin Rivera, 42, of Buffalo, NY, who was convicted of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute, and distributing, oxycodone and amphetamine, was sentenced to time served (approximately 28 months) and 12 months of home confinement by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua A. Violanti, who handled the case, stated that between January 2014, and February 2018, the defendant conspired with Dr. James T. Keefe, Laura Ricotta, and others, to sell oxycodone and amphetamine. Rivera and Dr. Keefe were associates for several years. For nearly five years, the defendant sold cocaine to Dr. Keefe, who was an active user of cocaine, Adderall, and prescription opiates. In January 2014, Dr. Keefe began issuing prescriptions in the names of Rivera’s relatives and associates to exchange for cocaine from the defendant and to share the prescriptions with the defendant. In 2015, Rivera introduced Dr. Keefe to co-defendant Laura Ricotta, at which time Dr. Keefe began issuing prescriptions in Ricotta’s name, for his and Ricotta’s personal use.

Rivera received from Dr. Keefe five prescriptions in Rivera’s own name and 17 prescriptions in the names of nine relatives and associates. Neither the defendant nor any of his relatives or associates were patients of Dr. Keefe, and all 22 prescriptions were fraudulently issued without a legitimate medical purpose.

Dr. Keefe was previously convicted and is awaiting sentencing. Laura Ricotta was also previously convicted and sentenced to time served (approximately 15 months).

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan.

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Updated April 30, 2021

Drug Trafficking