Two Newark Police Officers
SEPT 7 -- (Newark, NJ) – GERARD P. McALEER, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division and CHRISTOPHER J. CHRISTIE the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, announced that two Newark police officers pleaded guilty today to drug conspiracy charges for obtaining dozens of prescriptions for the drug OxyContin, filling the prescriptions and then selling the pills for cash.
John Hernandez, 36, of Berkeley Township, and Ronald Pomponio, 40, of Bricktown both pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to a one-count Information charging conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone. Judge Chesler scheduled Hernandez’s sentencing for December 19, 2006, and Pomponio’s for December 18, 2006. Both defendants were released on $100,000 bonds secured by property.
During their plea hearings, both defendants admitted to obtaining multiple prescriptions for oxycodone, in the form of OxyContin, from a doctor who was involved in their scheme. The defendants admitted they filled the prescriptions and then sold the pills for cash. Hernandez admitted that the conspiracy involved at least 249,600 milligrams of OxyContin. Pomponio admitted that he filled dozens of prescriptions for the drug at various pharmacies in New Jersey, sometimes filling more than one prescription at different pharmacies on the same day.
Hernandez was arrested in June 2006 on a Criminal Complaint; today was Pomponio’s first appearance in court. Each waived indictment by pleading guilty to an Information.
On Sept. 20, 2005, Dr. Joan Jaszczult, 45, of Bloomfield, and eight others were arrested as the result of an investigation by the FBI, DEA , and the Northern New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force. It is alleged that Dr. Jaszczult accepted cash payments in exchange for writing excessive amounts of prescriptions for OxyContin as well as for other Oxycodone-based narcotics.
The charge to which the two defendants pleaded guilty carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
In determining an actual sentence, Judge Chesler will consult the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges that take into account the severity and characteristics of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, if any, and other factors. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence. Parole has been abolished in the federal system. Defendants who are given custodial terms must serve nearly all that time.