By Ron Leir
A Belleville pharmacist and 15 others have been charged as alleged conspirators in a scheme to fraudulently obtain and distribute oxycodone, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said. Oxycodone, a semi-synthetic narcotic analgesic, is a widely prescribed painkiller marketed under the brand name OxyContin and is regulated by the federal Controlled Substances Act. It’s known in street parlance as “hillbilly heroin,” “kicker,” “OC,” “Perc” and “Roxy.”
A press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office on Wednesday, Aug. 13, identified Vincent Cozzarelli, 77, of Belleville, the owner of Rossmore Pharmacy, 338 Washington Ave., Belleville, as the accused druggist.
As of last week, the pharmacy was open but a sign posted in the front window advised patrons that by order of state Consumer Affairs Director Steve Lee, the sale of controlled substances is not permitted.
All the defendants are charged with one count of “conspiring to possess and distribute oxycodone, a Schedule 2 controlled substance.”
All but two of those charged were arrested by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Tactical Diversion Squad last Wednesday last Tuesday while the others remain at large. Those in custody appeared Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Mark Falk in Newark Federal Court.
The federal complaint alleges that between February 2014 and Aug. 13, 2014, the conspirators “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 feds identified defendant Victoria Horvath, 42, of Elizabeth, as a “senior member” of what they characterized as a “drug trafficking organization (DTO)” who “obtained and filled prescriptions for controlled substances and then distributed them.”
They said that Cozzarelli “supplied … Horvath (also known as “Gypsy”) and the [alleged DTO] with oxycodone and other controlled substances even though he knew the prescriptions were fraudulently obtained and that the [organization] would illegally distribute the controlled substances.”
Among the defendants, from The Observer’s coverage area, are Luis Rivera (“Tupac”), 23, and Robert O’Brien, 57, both of Bloomfield.
The other suspects were listed as: Daniel Horvath, 25, Monica Horvath (“Becky”), 20, and Johnny Horvath, 45, all of Rutherford; Rhonda Musallam, 38, of Jersey City; Brian Perez (“B”), 21, Matthew Policarpio (“Papi”), 26, and Justin Farraj (“Blaze”), 23, all of Newark; Alexis Horvath (“Tima”), 26, Rickie Horvath (“Yoggi”), 53, Steven Horvath (“Chi-Chi”), 43, and Tony Marco, 45, all of Elizabeth; and Sabrina Vajda, 31, of Brooklyn, N.Y.
According to the feds, Musallam and Perez remained at large, as of last week.
Federal agents declined to say how much profit the organization made from sales of the drugs.
The release said that the federal investigation made use of “confidential sources, physical surveillance and judicially-authorized electronic surveillance” to document the criminal charges.
According to the federal complaint, Victoria, Alexis and Rickie Horvath distributed oxycodone and other drugs “in the Belleville area.” It added that, “These three individuals worked together and with others to obtain controlled substances and prescriptions [from doctors not named in the complaint] for controlled substances for distribution.”
The complaint said that Steven, Daniel and Monica Horvath, Marco and Vajda obtained and filled prescriptions for drugs from various doctors and distributed the drugs, that Johnny Horvath assisted with distribution activities, that Musallam was a supplier of drugs, and that Farraj, O’Brien, Perez, Policarpio and Rivera were local distributors and customers.
According to the complaint, “on or about June 2, 2014,” after a phone conversation between Victoria Horvath and Cozzarelli, Victoria and Steven Horvath met with a DTO customer (not named) and traveled to Cozzarelli’s house where Victoria Horvath “… met with Cozzarelli and obtained 120 30mg oxycodone pills and 120 Percocet (10mg oxycodone) pills from him. The customer of the DTO was later arrested by local law enforcement and found to be in possession of 120 Percocet pills and 23 30mg oxycodone pills.”
Also, the complaint says, “On or about June 15, 2014, in a series of calls, V. Horvath arranged to obtain 120 30mg oxycodone pills, 120 Percocet (10mg oxycodone) pills and 120 units of another controlled substance from Cozzarelli….”
A conviction on the conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.