The second man charged for what federal prosecutors said was operating the first known “pill mill” in the metropolitan area — manufacturing oxycodone-looking tablets out of the more deadly narcotic fentanyl — was released Monday on $350,000 bond.
Frankie Morano, 44, of Deer Park also was placed on electronic monitoring at the federal court in Central Islip after his mother put up her Deer Park house as collateral for the bond.
Morano and Daniel O’Neil, 31, of North Babylon were arrested Wednesday in a West Babylon garage by agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad, officials said.
Morano and O’Neil were in the process of using a pill-pressing machine to compress powdered fentanyl in oxycodone-like pills when they were arrested, officials said.
The two were wearing hazmat suits and respirators, apparently guarding against exposure to fentanyl, which is such a powerful narcotic that even skin contact can cause an overdose, officials said. Suffolk police, also wearing hazmat suits and respirators, were called in by federal agents to remove the pills and other hazardous materials from the garage, officials said.
O’Neil was released on $800,000 bond on Thursday. The two were not required to enter pleas to the charge of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. If convicted, each faces up to 20 years in prison.
While such faux oxycodone pills have become popular in other parts of the country, the West Babylon location was the first known so-called pill mill uncovered in the metropolitan area, according to James Hunt, head of the DEA in New York.
While fentanyl is much more potent than oxycodone, oxycodone has become a popular narcotic on the street because of a shortage caused by a crackdown on doctors dispensing it, Hunt said.
The DEA head said officials are concerned that the use of the fentanyl pills is the most dangerous new trend in the opioid epidemic.
Fentanyl already is the leading cause of opioid deaths on Long Island, according to the Nassau and Suffolk medical examiners.
Morano’s attorney, federal public defender LaKeytria Felder, declined to comment after the court hearing, as did Eastern District federal prosecutor Charles Rose.