Oxycodone ring's alleged leader pleads not guilty

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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The alleged mastermind of a large-scale Long Island oxycodone distribution ring pleaded not guilty at arraignment in federal District Court in Central Islip Friday.

Cedric Moss, 46, who has lived in Elmont and Jamaica, Queens, was ordered held without bail as a flight risk and a danger to the community by U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert, pending future hearings.

Moss' attorney, Marvin Hirsch of Mineola, argued that a $500,000 bail package Moss offered was sufficient to ensure his client's return to court.

But Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Canty, in asking for Moss' detention, said he had a lengthy criminal history, including two felony and 17 misdemeanor convictions, and a record of failing to return to court in some cases.

Among Moss' convictions, Canty said, was one for severely injuring the boyfriend of a woman whom he had dated.

Moss was arrested in North Carolina in February on charges of heading the ring that allegedly distributed 100,000 pills valued at $3 million in the past two years. The U.S. Marshals Service only recently brought him to Long Island for arraignment.

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The ring allegedly obtained the pills from pharmacies, mainly on Long Island, by using forged prescription blanks from legitimate doctors, according to an investigation by federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents. The pills were distributed throughout the East Coast, officials have said. Investigators have yet to determine how the ring obtained the prescription blanks, officials said.

After the hearing, defense attorney Hirsch said "the government was overstating and exaggerating" his client's role in the scheme, if any. Prosecutor Canty declined to comment.

If convicted of charges of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, Moss would face more than 20 years in prison.

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