JAN 03 (WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.) - Brian R. Crowell, the Special Agent in Charge, New York Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, George Longworth, the Commissioner of Westchester County Department of Public Safety, Thomas Zugibe, Rockland County District Attorney, and Kevin Nulty, Chief of the Orangetown Police Department, announced the arrest this morning of Craig Oleksowicz for illegally distributing oxymorphone, a Schedule II controlled substance, the use of which caused the October 2011 death of another individual, a 21-year-old man in Pearl River, New York. Oleksowicz was additionally charged with illegally distributing codeine, methadone, and Valium pills. Oleksowicz was presented today before U.S. Magistrate Judge George A. Yanthis in White Plains federal court.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian Crowell stated: “There is zero difference between the local street drug dealer selling heroin to that of a person selling illegally obtained prescription pain medication. Some of these diverted pills, like Opana, are known on the streets as ‘Stop Signs’, due to its shape. The misuse of this and other diverted pain medicine can cause people to become addicts leading to tragic overdoses. Diverted pain pills, not prescribed for the right reasons nor by the right doctor, and sold to people on the street, are the leading cause of overdoses and deaths in our region. Many continue to believe the illegal distribution of pain medications is harmless, this charge and arrest should make clear there is no difference between selling pain medication not prescribed by a doctor and supplying heroin.”
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “As has been reported, prescription drug trafficking and abuse is an exploding epidemic, claiming the lives of almost 15,000 people a year, more than illegal street drugs like heroin and cocaine combined. As alleged, the defendant was essentially an outlaw pharmacy, and worse, a lethal one. The illegal dealers of prescription drugs will not get any easier treatment from this Office simply because what they are selling can be legally used when properly prescribed. We will not relent in combating this new drug scourge. We commend the teamwork and professionalism of our federal and local partners that led to this arrest.”
Westchester County Department of Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth stated: “This investigation is another example of the tremendous collaboration that exists among federal, county and local law enforcement agencies in the Hudson Valley. The Department of Public Safety is committed to continuing to work with all our law enforcement partners to combat narcotics trafficking in our communities.”
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe stated: “This defendant is accused of trafficking in drugs which are extremely potent and sometimes deadly. Rockland County has seen a huge rise in the use and abuse of prescription painkillers, such as Opana. In fact, the White House Office on National Drug Policy says prescription drug abuse is the nation's fastest-growing drug problem, responsible for the deaths of more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined. My thanks to the members of the Rockland County Drug Task Force, the Orangetown Police Department Detective Bureau and the DEA's diversionary unit for partnering in this investigation. All levels of law enforcement must continue working together to battle our growing pill epidemic.”
Orangetown Police Department Chief Kevin Nulty stated: “It was sad for me to see a young man from my own neighborhood in Orangetown die as a result of being illegally sold a prescription narcotic substance. The death was very real to me. I greatly commend the work of the investigators from my department and the US Drug Enforcement Administration who worked very hard in identifying the parties responsible for the drug sale that caused this death. I am very pleased that this case has been brought to a successful closure. Stopping the epidemic of the sale of and illicit use of prescription drugs is a new challenge for law enforcement agencies across the United States. We will continue to work with our local, state and federal partners in our public education, prevention and enforcement efforts.”
According to the Indictment, which was unsealed today in White Plains federal court and other public documents:
Between at least February 2011 and October 2011, Oleksowicz, 37, of Pearl River, New York, and others regularly distributed Oleksowicz’s prescription oxymorphone pills for profit. Oxymorphone is a powerful painkiller with a high potential for addiction and abuse, and its improper use may be fatal. In October 2011, the use of oxymorphone pills supplied by Oleksowicz caused the overdose death of a young man residing in Pearl River, New York. Following that death, Oleksowicz continued his illegal distribution of pills, selling codeine, methadone, and Valium pills on at least three separate occasions in February 2012.
If convicted, Oleksowicz faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years in prison, a maximum penalty of life in prison, and a maximum fine of $1 million or twice the gain or loss resulting from the crime.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative efforts of the DEA, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, the Rockland County Drug Task Force, and the Orangetown Police Department. He also thanked the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office for its assistance in the case.
The case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher J. DiMase and Abigail S. Kurland are in charge of the prosecution.The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.