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For Immediate Release:
For Further Information:
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January 28, 2010

Office of The Attorney General
- Paula T. Dow, Acting Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Stephen J. Taylor, Director
Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor
- Riza Dagli, Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor

Peter Aseltine
609-292-4791

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Jersey City Pharmacist and Two Other Men Arrested in Investigation of Major Narcotics Network
Arrests made by Division of Criminal Justice and Jersey City Police Department

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Ed Harmon   Thomas Milette   Kamal Moorjani
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TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor today announced the arrests of a Jersey City pharmacist and two city residents in an ongoing investigation of a criminal narcotics network that distributed thousands of black market prescription pain pills such as OxyContin and Percocet.

The arrests, made yesterday and today, stem from Operation MedScam, a joint investigation by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Division of Criminal Justice’s Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor and the Jersey City Police Department’s Special Investigation Unit. More than 25 individuals have been arrested in the investigation to date.

“We are continuing to identify and charge those alleged to be responsible for this criminal network, which distributed dangerous narcotics in our communities and stole from the Medicaid program,” said Acting Attorney General Dow.

According to Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Riza Dagli, Kamal Moorjani, 40, of Lyndhurst, the owner and pharmacist in charge at Amethyst Pharmacy at 550 Newark Ave. in Jersey City, was arrested yesterday on charges of health care claims fraud (2nd degree), Medicaid fraud (3rd degree), distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) within 500 feet of a public park (2nd degree), distribution of a CDS (3rd degree), and distribution of a CDS within 1,000 feet of a school (3rd degree). More than $2 million in assets of Moorjani were seized yesterday.

Moorjani allegedly dispensed prescription pills, including Viagra and narcotics such as OxyContin, to individuals who did not have prescriptions for them. Meanwhile, in exchange, Moorjani allegedly billed Medicaid for non-narcotic medicines that were prescribed to those individuals and others without dispensing the medicines.

The investigation further revealed that Moorjani filled prescriptions for narcotics that were fraudulently obtained. It is alleged that co-conspirators within the criminal network would drop off numerous fraudulent prescriptions for narcotics, which Moorjani would fill. The co-conspirators would return later to pick up the narcotics, which were sold on the street.

The Division of Criminal Justice yesterday seized assets and property from Moorjani worth more than $2 million, including the pharmacy property at 550 Newark Avenue, his residence in Lyndhurst, and more than $1.3 million deposited in bank accounts.

Also arrested were Thomas Milette, 30, and Edward Harmon, 50, both of Jersey City. They were charged with distributing narcotics. Harmon was arrested yesterday. Milette was arrested today.

“This investigation is an excellent example of cooperation between state and local law enforcement agencies,” said Division of Criminal Justice Director Taylor. “By working together and sharing resources, expertise and information, we can maximize our results.”

Milette was charged with distribution of a controlled dangerous substance within 500 feet of a public park (2nd degree) and two counts of distribution of a CDS (3rd degree). Milette allegedly distributed Percocet and Oxycodone pills in Jersey City on Dec. 2 on Summit Avenue, and on Dec. 9 in Lincoln Park.

Harmon was charged with distribution of a CDS (2nd degree) and distribution of a CDS (3rd degree). He allegedly distributed Percocet pills in Jersey City on multiple occasions during the past three months.

The arrests were made by detectives and officers of the Division of Criminal Justice and Jersey City Police Department. The three defendants were being held in the Hudson County Jail, Moorjani on $100,000 bail, Milette on $75,000 bail, and Harmon on $50,000 bail. The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

A total of more than 25 people have been arrested since October 19 as a result of Operation MedScam, including doctors, pharmacists and alleged street-level drug dealers.

On Oct. 19 and 20, investigators arrested three alleged ringleaders: Robert Silverman, 44, of Jersey City; Louis Lisi, 34, of Union City; and Brian Kelly, 49, of Hoboken. Silverman allegedly ran his own ring, while the other two worked together. The leaders allegedly paid Medicaid beneficiaries to obtain fake prescriptions for painkillers and other drugs from two doctors, Dr. Clifton Howell, 53, of West Orange, whose medical practice is at 550 Newark Ave., Jersey City, and Dr. Magdy Elamir, 56, of North Saddle Brook, whose practice is at 550 Summit Ave., Jersey City. Both of those doctors were arrested.

Two pharmacists were arrested in October: Babak Bamdad, 41, pharmacist in charge at Tucker Drugs, 1000 Washington St., Hoboken, and Amir Tadros, 32, pharmacist in charge at Five Corners Pharmacy, 591 Summit Ave., Jersey City. Six other individuals were arrested as alleged street-level distributors for the rings. The charges against the other defendants are pending. At the time of the initial arrests in October, bank accounts containing more than $1 million were seized, and more than 1,000 pills were recovered from the arrested individuals and from locations where search warrants were executed.

The rings allegedly distributed the prescription pain pills throughout Hudson County and other parts of the state, including Bergen, Ocean, Morris and Monmouth counties. A single 30 milligram OxyContin pill, known as a “blue,” typically sells for $10 to $20 on the street, while a 10 milligram Percocet pill sells for $5 to $8.

“As we have seen historically, this type of health care fraud and street level distribution doesn't occur without the involvement of the medical providers,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Riza Dagli. “Criminal activity by doctors, pharmacists, and other professionals who are in a position of public trust is particularly egregious and is a priority for this office.”

The investigation was led for the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit by Detective Kevin Gannon and Sgt. Fred Weidman under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General Erik Daab, Deputy Chief of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and Deputy Attorneys General Debra Conrad and Cynthia Vazquez.

They were assisted by the following members of the Jersey City Police Department’s Special Investigation Unit under the supervision of Chief Thomas Comey: Capt. Gary Lallo, Sgt. Anthony Musante, Sgt. Wally Wolf, Detective Wael Shahid, Detective Jeff Guilfoyle, Detective Vincent Disbrow, Detective Hector Marrero, Police Officer Alex Torres, Police Officer Chris Dolan, and Police Officer Erik Infantes.

Deputy Attorney General Carol Stanton Meier, Detective Sgt. Scott Naismyth and Analyst Bethany Schussler are handling the asset forfeiture actions for the Division of Criminal Justice.

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