Feds: Major oxycodone drug ring busted

Cedric Moss, 46, of Jamaica, dubbed the mastermind Cedric Moss, 46, of Jamaica, dubbed the mastermind of the scheme by authorities, was arrested late Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, by Drug Enforcement Administration agents in North Carolina, according to court papers. Oxycodone tablets are dispensed Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, in a Melville pharmacy. Photo Credit: Handout, Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

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Federal drug agents Friday arrested two leaders of a Long Island-based drug ring that contributed to the region's painkiller addiction crisis by peddling a "staggering amount" of oxycodone, a prosecutor said.

More than 100,000 of the powerful pain pills, obtained through forged prescriptions, were trafficked in the region in the past two years, according to Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Canty.

Canty called the operation "the largest oxycodone ring that has been dismantled by far."

He was referring to an intensive federal crackdown that began after the 2011 Father's Day slayings of four people during a Medford pharmacy robbery by David Laffer, a painkiller addict.

Authorities said the ring obtained about $3 million worth of oxycodone from pharmacies, mainly on Long Island, but distributed the pills throughout the metropolitan area and along the East Coast.

Neither the pharmacists nor the doctors whose forged prescription blanks were used were aware of the scheme, Canty said at the arraignment of one of the alleged ringleaders.

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Michael Taylor, 26, of Shirley, who did not enter a plea Friday, was ordered held without bail by Magistrate Arlene Lindsay in federal court in Central Islip.

Taylor's attorney, Randi Chavis, declined to comment afterward.

Cedric Moss, 46, of Jamaica, dubbed the mastermind of the scheme by authorities, was arrested late Thursday by Drug Enforcement Administration agents in North Carolina, according to court papers. A judge ordered him moved to Long Island to answer the charges.

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The defendants face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of illegal distribution of oxycodone.

Canty said other members of the ring are being sought.

To fool pharmacies, blank prescription forms were obtained bearing the names of uninvolved doctors.

Computer programs were then used to add the telephone numbers of ring members to the forms in case a pharmacist called to verify, court papers said.

To make the oxycodone prescriptions seem more authentic, prescriptions for common non-narcotics, such as Mobic, an anti-inflammatory drug, were added on, according to court papers.

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The ring used a number of people known as "runners" to fill the prescriptions, the documents said.

Three suspected runners believed to be active in New York City were arrested Friday by the NYPD and office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York, who are working with federal authorities.

In an unrelated case Friday, a former Bay Shore doctor, who had lost his license, pleaded guilty in federal court in Central Islip to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.

Binod Singh was arrested in 2012 on charges of selling forged prescriptions for the painkiller for up to $1,800, according to officials.

Singh, who is being held without bail, is facing up to 14 years in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler.

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Singh's attorney, George Harmel of Central Islip, declined to comment.

With William Murphy

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