A Florida man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal charges that he was making at least $1 million a year heading a ring that distributed oxycodone, cocaine and steroids on Long Island and in Queens.
Kovar, who was charged with conspiracies to distribute drugs and to commit mail and wire fraud, as well as money laundering and the introduction of misbranded drugs in interstate commerce, could face up to life in prison if convicted, Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Burton Ryan said in court papers.
The case is the latest sign of a continuing federal crackdown on trafficking in illegal painkillers in the metropolitan area.
Two weeks ago, 98 people were charged in a joint federal, county and New York City operation that was touched off by the murder of four people in a Medford pharmacy by David Laffer on June 19, 2011, and the accidental shooting death of federal agent John Capano, who was attempting to break up the robbery of a Seaford pharmacy on New Year's Eve, 2011.
While Kovar was accused of dealing in oxycodone, Vicodin and Percocet, as well as cocaine, the main drugs that his ring distributed were various types of supposed anabolic steroids, according to court papers filed by Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Burton Ryan.
Ryan described Kovar as a "career drug dealer" who moved to Florida from College Point after a 2007 conviction for distributing steroids in Queens. He was released on time served after spending about 90 days in jail, according to court papers.
Ryan said Kovar's ring involved a number of people who operated illicit laboratories and distributed the drugs in New York and Florida. The investigation is continuing.
The "laboratories" took chemicals imported from overseas, mixed them, at times, with other chemicals, and put the concoction into vials with counterfeit labels resembling those of real steroid containers, Ryan said.
"[S]ome were counterfeit, some adulterated, and some were fake and all were unapproved for sale in the United States," according to the indictment, describing the chemicals Kovar's ring allegedly sold as genuine steroids.
Kovar's attorney, Kenneth Schreiber of Kew Gardens, declined to comment, as did Ryan.