Paul Bellofiore, M.D., 56, of Trumbull, pleaded guilty on Thursday in Hartford federal court to one count of issuing unlawful prescriptions for oxycodone.
Greenwich Police, part of the DEA’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad, are part of the investigation, which is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Avi M. Perry.
“Medical practitioners play a critical role in battling the epidemic of opioid abuse that we are experiencing,” said US Attorney Deirdre Daly, who announced the plea on Thursday.
“The strict rules associated with prescribing controlled substances are in place for a reason: to help ensure that these highly-addictive narcotics aren’t abused or illegally diverted. Those who knowingly prescribe opiates in violation of federal law will be prosecuted,” she said.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Bellofiore is a physician with an office in Fairfield. Two of Bellofiore’s longtime patients were a married couple who lived in Connecticut until approximately 2011, when they relocated to Florida.
Bellofiore knew that, prior to moving to Florida, the couple had unlawfully obtained forged prescriptions for opioid medications from Bellofiore’s former medical assistant and, as a result, he should have been aware of the possibility that the couple was abusing or diverting their medications.
After moving to Florida, the couple traveled to Connecticut approximately twice per year, during which visits they scheduled medical appointments with Bellofiore. At the conclusion of each appointment, Bellofiore provided the couple with approximately six months of predated prescriptions, including prescriptions for Oxycodone, to last until their next appointment.
At times, the couple was unable to travel to Connecticut to see Bellofiore and obtain their prescriptions in person, in which case Bellofiore left the predated prescriptions for a friend or relative of the couple to pick up from Bellofiore’s office.
It was Bellofiore’s understanding that the friend or relative would fill the prescriptions each month at a pharmacy in Connecticut and mail the medications to the couple in Florida.
In approximately February 2016, Bellofiore provided a stack of prescriptions to a friend of the married couple. The prescriptions, which were improperly dated to make it appear that they were issued at monthly intervals after February 2016, authorized the couple to receive thousands of pills of oxycodone and Percocet, a medication containing oxycodone.
Bellofiore also failed to include on the prescriptions the couple’s address in Florida, which might have alerted a pharmacist filling the prescriptions in Connecticut to the possibility that the medications were being abused or diverted.
The couple subsequently diverted a significant amount of their medications for profit by arranging through a middleman for street-level resale of the pills in and around Waterbury.
The Controlled Substances Act prohibits physicians from dispensing any Schedule II controlled substance, including oxycodone, without a valid written prescription. The prescription must be “dated as of, and signed on, the day when issued” and “bear the full name and address of the patient.” A practitioner also may not issue multiple prescriptions at any single time authorizing a patient to receive more than a 90-day supply of a Schedule II controlled substance.
Bellofiore is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant on January 11, 2016, at which time he faces a maximum term of imprisonment of one year and a fine of up to $100,000.
Bellofiore was released pending sentencing. As a condition of his release, he is prohibited from writing prescriptions for controlled substances.
This investigation is being conducted by the DEA’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad, which includes officers from the Bristol, Greenwich, Hamden, Milford, New Haven, Shelton, Vernon and Wilton Police Departments. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Avi M. Perry.