A.G. Schneiderman Announces Sentencing Of NYC And Hudson Valley Oxycodone Kingpin

Oxy Dealer John Bland Sentenced To Five Years In State Prison For Ring That Used Forged Prescriptions At Pharmacies In Manhattan, Bronx, Kings, Queens, Dutchess And Orange Counties To Obtain And Sell Tens Of Thousands Of Oxycodone Pills

Schneiderman: We Will Use Every Tool At Our Disposal To Fight The Epidemic Of Prescription Drug Abuse And Prosecute Those Who Illegally Profit From It

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the sentencing of John Bland, who previously pleaded guilty to running a major oxycodone trafficking ring in New York City and Dutchess and Orange Counties. The ring used forged prescriptions to obtain and sell close to 16,000 of the highly-addictive pain pills with a street value of approximately $470,000. Bland was sentenced to five years in state prison today by Orange County Court Judge Jeffrey G. Berry.

“My office will do everything in its power to crack down on the criminals who use fake prescriptions to fuel dangerous addictions and illegally traffic in prescription narcotics,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Cases like this are exactly why my office fought to pass New York’s historic I-STOP prescription drug abuse prevention law. The state prison sentence that this kingpin will serve should be warning to all who are tempted to capitalize on other peoples’ addictions.”

Last June, the state legislature unanimously passed the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act, or I-STOP, which was then signed into law. First introduced by Attorney General Schneiderman, I-STOP requires doctors to review a patient’s prescription drug history and update it through a real-time database when writing prescriptions for certain controlled substances. The bill will eliminate most paper prescriptions by August of 2014. Had the system been in place, Bland’s illegal activities could have been spotted earlier by law enforcement officials.

John Bland, a/k/a “Nugget,” 49, of the Bronx, who pleaded guilty in June, admitted to being the director of a controlled substance trafficking ring in which he supplied other members of the organization with forged prescriptions for the narcotic drug oxycodone and directed them to present the prescriptions to pharmacies in New York City and Dutchess and Orange Counties. Bland admitted that he paid members of his ring between $150 and $400 for each prescription they successfully filled. He also admitted to selling the oxycodone pills in bulk to other drug dealers, for $10 a pill, and that between February 1, 2011 and January 4, 2012 he possessed and sold 15,670 oxycodone pills which had a street value of $470,100.

Six other members of Bland’s controlled substance organization, Carl Canty, 49; Paul Perez, 42; Mario Aragona, 49; Michelle Kaplan, 42; Darrell Harrison, 50; and Kimberly Augustus, 31; all of the Bronx; were each previously arrested and charged with four counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, (B felony); two counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, (D felony); and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree (E felony), for their participation in the ring’s activities. They are all scheduled to appear in the Town of Newburgh Justice Court on September 10, 2013. The charges against these defendants are accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Bland pleaded guilty to one count of Attempted Operating as a Major Trafficker and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree.

The investigation into Bland’s ring was conducted by the New York State Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the NYC Human Resources Administration, Investigation, Revenue & Enforcement Administration. Attorney General Schneiderman thanked the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement for their assistance in this investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Christopher Borek, under the supervision of Regional Director Anne Jardine of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paul Mahoney, Special Deputy Attorney General Monica Hickey-Martin and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan. The investigation was conducted by Senior Special Investigator Dennis Johnston, Senior Special Investigator Frank Bluszcz, and Special Auditor Investigator Christopher Giacoia, under the supervision of Chief Regional Auditor John Regan and Deputy Chief Investigator Thaddeus Fisher.

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