TRENTON - Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that a medical doctor pleaded guilty today to charges that he sold prescriptions for the highly addictive narcotic painkiller Percocet to a drug dealer in the names of purported patients he never treated or examined, and created fraudulent medical records to back up the prescriptions.
William C. Kropinicki, 59, of Morrisville, Pa., a medical doctor who formerly practiced in Lawrence, N.J., was on trial for the charges when he pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Robert C. Billmeier in Trenton. Kropinicki pleaded guilty to all charges in the indictment against him, including second-degree conspiracy; second-degree distribution of oxycodone, sold under the brand name Percocet; third-degree obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud; and fourth-degree falsification or alteration of records related to medical care. The charges resulted from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, the Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau and the Bordentown City Police Department. The State Board of Medical Examiners revoked Kropinicki’s license to practice medicine in New Jersey in 2008 after the Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau filed an action against his license based on his illegal writing of Percocet prescriptions.
Deputy Attorney General Russell J. Curley prosecuted the case and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice. The lead investigator was Investigator Richard Lizzano of the Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau. Under New Jersey law, second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000. Judge Billmeier scheduled sentencing for Dec. 7.
“Narcotic painkillers such as Percocet are addictive and deadly, with roughly 40 people dying from them each day in the United States,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “It is shocking that a doctor – who is bound by oath and professional ethics to heal and not harm – would profit by knowingly supplying a drug dealer with addictive painkillers. This guilty plea should send a strong message to any doctors who think that prescription forms are blank checks that they can use to turn a profit by indiscriminately prescribing dangerous narcotics.”
“The Division of Criminal Justice has brought a number of successful prosecutions in recent years targeting individual practitioners, as well as large-scale criminal rings involving doctors, pharmacists and drug dealers, who have conspired to profit from the black market for narcotic painkillers in New Jersey,” said Stephen J. Taylor, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “I commend our attorney and the lead investigator from the Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau, who skillfully handled this case, with valuable assistance from the Bordentown City Police Department.”
“Prescription drug overdose kills more Americans each year than heroin and cocaine combined,” said Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs. “Our Enforcement Bureau’s aggressive investigation of prescription drug diversion cases is an important part of our multi-tiered strategy to halt prescription drug abuse, along with the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program and our Project Medicine Drop initiative.”
Kropinicki was indicted on Jan. 9, 2009, along with a co-defendant, Carl Hames, 48, of Trenton. Hames pleaded guilty on May 6, 2010 to a second-degree charge of possession of Percocet with intent to distribute and a third-degree charge of possession of Percocet with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school property.
On August 12, 2008, Hames went to Kropinicki’s medical office and paid him for eight prescriptions for Percocet, giving Kropinicki eight names and paying him $100 for each prescription for 120 pills. Kropinicki wrote the eight prescriptions and subsequently created false medical records for each of the eight names, indicating he had physically examined each of the purported patients, when, in fact, he had not.
Hames told investigators that he frequently obtained illegal prescriptions for Percocet from Kropinicki in that fashion. Hames was arrested on the same day that Kropinicki wrote the eight prescriptions, after Hames filled all of the prescriptions at a pharmacy in Bordentown City. The pharmacy alerted police about the suspicious prescriptions and Hames was arrested following a vehicle stop by a Bordentown City police officer. A bag containing more than 800 Percocet pills was seized from the vehicle.
Further investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau established that Kropinicki had conspired with Hames since at least the start of 2008 to write prescriptions for Percocet for people he never treated or examined. The DCA Enforcement Bureau conducted a thorough review of records related to prescriptions written by Kropinicki, uncovering hundreds of suspicious prescriptions.
The investigation was led by Deputy Attorney General Curley of the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau and Investigator Lizzano of the Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau. Sgt. Douglas Corrello led the investigation for the Bordentown City Police Department. Deputy Attorney General Curley was assisted at trial by Detective Scott Caponi and Supervisor of Media Services Shari Grace of the Division of Criminal Justice. Attorney General Chiesa also thanked the New Jersey State Police and the Lawrence Township Police Department for their valuable assistance in the investigation.