A New York City doctor is among nine people who are charged for allegedly conspiring to distribute tens of thousands of prescription pills, including opioids and other controlled substances, in Manhattan and Staten Island, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Dr. Noel Smith was charged with 30 counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance by a practitioner.
Smith, a Tribeca-based family practitioner, allegedly wrote prescriptions for Adderall, Klonopin and Suboxone to New Jersey resident Timothy Bonaguro, New Jersey resident Christopher Gorga, Staten Island resident Ivan Iorizzo, New Jersey resident Mark Lanfranchi and Staten Island resident Louis Ventafredda. Along with associate Anthony Santo, of New York City, Bonaguro, Gorga, Iorizzo, Lanfranchi, and Ventafredda are charged with Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree and numerous counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Fifth Degree for participating in a scheme to obtain and fill the prescriptions from Smith and distribute the pills through illegal street-level sales to buyers on Staten Island.
“As alleged, these defendants used the ongoing opioid crisis to exploit the suffering and addiction of others. And to make matters worse, a trusted Manhattan doctor prescribed pills to the defendants, which were then sold illegally to New Yorkers,” said District Attorney Alvin Bragg. “We are grateful for the collaboration with our law enforcement partners and will continue to work across agencies to hold accountable all who make our streets less safe and endanger the lives of New Yorkers with illicit prescription drugs.”
“Today’s charges prove again that New York City’s fight against the illegal drug trade is unrelenting,” said NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell. “The NYPD, together with all of our law-enforcement partners, will pursue these criminals however they operate – and when the perpetrators are trusted members of the medical community, their crimes are especially appalling. I thank and commend the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the NYC Business Integrity Commission, the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, the DEA’s New York Division, and everyone else involved in this case for their exceptional work.”
According to court documents, Iorizzo, Lanfranchi and Ventafredda allegedly made a plan that would maximize their drug hauls. Lanfranchi and Ventafredda allegedly obtained prescriptions in their names for Adderall and Klonopin while Iorizzo allegedly obtained prescriptions in his name for Adderall, Klonopin and Suboxone. Bonaguro and Gorga also allegedly got prescriptions in their names for Adderall and Klonopin.
Iorizzo, Lanfranchi and Ventafredda would allegedly assume the identity of one of Iorizzo’s brothers for Adderall and Klonopin prescriptions, and in other instances, Iorizzo, Lanfranchi and Santo would allegedly assume the identity of another one of Iorizzo’s brothers for Adderall and Klonopin prescriptions. Iorizzo, Lanfranchi, Santo and Ventafredda also face identity theft charges for allegedly impersonating Iorizzo’s brothers to get more pills to sell.
In a separate indictment, Iorizzo and Ventafredda are charged along with New York City residents Elia Albanese and Carmine Russo with Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree and numerous counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree for allegedly participating in a scheme to obtain oxycodone pills from a different Midtown Manhattan doctor and illegally sell the pills. In this incident, Iorizzo and Ventafredda allegedly carried out a similar scheme for building inventory while Albanese and Russo allegedly obtained prescriptions in their names for oxycodone from the midtown doctor in their names and would get them filled in Manhattan. Iorizzo and Ventafredda would then allegedly run the pills obtained by Albanese and Russo so that Iorizzo and associates could then sell the oxycodone on Staten Island.
The defendants are charged in three New York State Supreme Court indictments that were the result of a yearlong wiretap investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the New York City Police Department, the Business Integrity Commission, the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“This investigation demonstrates how the diversion of prescription medication precipitates drug peddling throughout our communities,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino. “Investigators learned that Dr. Noel Smith prescribed controlled substances in a manner inconsistent with public health and safety which put many people in harm’s way. I want to thank our law enforcement partners who worked collectively on this significant investigation.”
“BIC values working in partnership with NYPD, Manhattan DA’s Office, the DEA’s New York Division and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor and our collective continued efforts to work as partners in public safety,” said BIC Commissioner and Chair Elizabeth Crotty.
“The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor remains committed to working with all its law enforcement partners to eliminate the scourge of illegal narcotics in the Port District and elsewhere in the metropolitan area, especially when it involves organized crime,” said Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor New York Executive Director Walter Arsenault. “We thank the New York County District Attorney’s Office for their work on this case and for our continued partnership in keeping the public safe.”