NJ Doctor and Drug Dealers Sell Painkillers Using False Prescriptions: Police

A New Jersey medical doctor as well as 17 other suspects in Atlantic County are accused of distributing tens of thousands of oxycodone and Xanax pills using false prescriptions. Officials released mugshots of the suspects.

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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office

A New Jersey medical doctor along with 17 other suspects were arrested and accused of distributing tens of thousands of high-dose pills of the opioid painkiller oxycodone as well as Xanax. Investigators say Dr. Craig Gialanella, 53, of North Caldwell, New Jersey, sold prescriptions for cash to a ring of drug dealers in Atlantic County, New Jersey and wrote fraudulent prescriptions for people who had no legitimate medical need for the pills.

The arrests are the result of "Operation Oxy Highway," an investigation that targeted corrupt health care professionals and "pill mills." Since 2014, a team made up of detectives and attorneys with the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, charged six doctors, including Gialanella, with illegally distributing opiates. Investigators say two of those doctors were also charged with strict liability for overdose deaths.

The investigation began in December, 2016 after a pharmacist in Atlantic County reported that Douglas Patterson, 53, of Egg Harbor Township, and other local residents were using Dr. Gialanella's office to obtain a large amount of opiates. Patterson allegedly used several dates of birth on oxycodone prescriptions to avoid detection.

Between January 1, 2016 and December 7, 2016, Dr. Gialanella allegedly issued 413 prescriptions for approximately 50,000 oxycodone 30 milligram tablets in the names of 30 people in the Atlantic County area. These included prescriptions for the alleged leaders and members of the drug ring, investigators said.

Investigators say Patterson introduced his ex-wife Mary Connolly and several other Atlantic County residents to Dr. Gialanella as a source for the pills. In return, Patterson allegedly required the "patients" to provide him with a share of the pills they received using prescriptions from Dr. Gialanella. Patterson, Connolly and Connolly's daughter Lauren Connolly allegedly worked together to obtain and distribute the pills.

Investigators say Dr. Gialanella charged his "patients" $50 to $100 for an "office visit" which only lasted a few minutes and didn't involved any exam, testing or treatment. Gialanella allegedly wrote from two to five prescriptions for the drugs for a single patient every 30 days and would often leave the date of birth blank.

Patterson and Mary Connolly allegedly managed the supply and distribution side of the drug ring in Atlantic County. Lauren Connolly allegedly worked as an intermediary between her mother, Patterson and street-level distributors.

Officials say the investigation is ongoing. They suspect Dr. Gialanella illegally prescribed oxycodone to people in other counties. Between January, 2014 and May, 2017, Gialanella allegedly issued prescriptions for more than 350,000 oxycodone 30 milligram tablets. Investigators also say he reduced his illegal prescriptions of oxycodone in Atlantic County after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a law in February that set a five-day limit on initial prescriptions for opioid painkillers.

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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
Dr. Gialanella is an internist with a medical practice in Belleville, New Jersey. He was arrested on July 17 by detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice and charged with second-degree distribution of narcotics.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
Mary Connolly, 54, of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey is one of three people accused of leading the drug ring in Atlantic County supplied by Dr. Gialanella, according to investigators.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
Douglas Patterson, 53, of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey is Mary Connolly's ex-husband. He is also allegedly one of three leaders of the Atlantic County drug ring supplied by Dr. Gialanella, according to investigators.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
Lauren Connolly, 28, of Egg Harbor Township is Mary Connolly's daughter. She is also one of the three alleged leaders of the Atlantic County drug ring supplied by Dr. Gialanella, according to investigators.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
Robert Connolly, 31, of Galloway, New Jersey is Mary Connolly's son. He is charged with distribution of narcotics or conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
Michael Connolly, Jr., 33, of Galloway, New Jersey is also Mary Connolly's son. He is charged with obtaining narcotics by fraud.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
Danielle Grainger, 33, of Linwood, New Jersey is charged with distribution of narcotics and/or conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
William Warren, 51, of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey is charged with distribution of narcotics and/or conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
Francis Clemson, 53, of Ocean View, New Jersey is charged with distribution of narcotics and/or conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
Ashton Funk, 35, of Northfield, New Jersey is charged with distribution of narcotics and/or conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
Theodore Gogol, 37, of Margate, New Jersey is charged with distribution of narcotics and/or conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Gogol is also a Margate City firefighter and has been suspended without pay.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
Beatriz Oquendo, 34, of Pleasantville, New Jersey is charged with distribution of narcotics and/or conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
Amanda Blomdahl, 37, of Somers Point, New Jersey is charged with distribution of narcotics and/or conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
Kevin Reid, 47, of Ventnor, New Jersey is charged with distribution of narcotics and/or conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
David Blocker, 49, of Galloway, New Jersey is charged with distribution of narcotics and/or conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
Joseph Green, 39, of Atlantic City, New Jersey is charged with distribution of narcotics and/or conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
Christopher Perez, 34, of Mays Landing, New Jersey is charged with distribution of narcotics and/or conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
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New Jersey Attorney General's Office
John Hager, 39, of Deptford, New Jersey is charged with distribution of narcotics and/or conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
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