DEA and Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office Arrest Doctor and Staff Member
DEA places Immediate Suspension Order on Atlantic City Doctor
JUN 19 -- (Newark) - Gerard P. McAleer, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New Jersey Division, and Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel announced today that the DEA New Jersey Division and the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office arrested a medical doctor and one staff member who have been charged with Conspiracy with Intent to Distribute Oxycodone, a schedule II controlled substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846. In addition, a federal search warrant was executed at the doctor’s office located at 1 South New York Ave., Suite 512, Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Arrested were Manuel B. Nigalan, M.D., from Northfield, New Jersey, and Lonnie Sanders, from Brigantine, New Jersey, without incident. The cooperative investigation brought together the resources and experience of the DEA, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Margate Police Department in order to disrupt the ever-growing illegal market for prescription narcotics in the Southern New Jersey region.
The investigation resulted in the identification of Manuel B. Nigalan, M.D., a New Jersey physician, who accepted cash payments in his Atlantic City, New Jersey, office in exchange for writing prescriptions for Oxycodone-based narcotics, as well as Xanax, with no exam or legitimate medical reason. People were also able to obtain prescriptions in the names of individuals whom the doctor had never examined, diagnosed, treated, or otherwise met.
Additionally, this investigation revealed that Dr. Nigalan hired a security guard who required a fee up to $300 cash at a time to ensure the individual was placed on Dr. Nigalan’s schedule. It was not uncommon for surveillance to observe a minimum of nine individuals lined up on the street below the office in which he practiced awaiting their turn to get into Dr. Nigalan’s office. Lonnie Sanders was the security guard who organized the line of individuals outside the facility and determined who would be let into the elevator and up to see Dr. Nigalan at any one time.
Gerard P. McAleer, DEA, New Jersey Division, Special Agent in Charge, stated, “The authority to prescribe drugs is not a license to violate the law. Sound medical practice requires a bonafide examination and prescribing should be for treatment and not for profit.”
"We will not hesitate to cooperate with other authorities in matters notwithstanding the fact that the decision is made to proceed at a federal level," Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel stated. "We were pleased to participate and invest man hours into this investigation which, although a federal prosecution, is a matter of serious local concern."
This investigation was conducted in cooperation with DEA, Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, Margate Police Department, Egg Harbor Police Department, Northfield Police Department, Evesham Police Department, Burlington County Sheriffs Department, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
The investigation is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey headed by Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph J. Marra. Howard Weiner is the Assistant United States Attorney who will represent the Government.
The federal complaint charges the defendants with conspiracy and distribution of a schedule II narcotic. If convicted of the above charges, each defendant faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine.
Notwithstanding the criminal complaint, every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and federal law.