TODAY'S PAPER
44° Good Morning
44° Good Morning
Long IslandSuffolk

LI mom pleads guilty on oxycodone charge

A mother of two from Nesconset pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, prescription painkillers that produce a heroinlike high.

"My plea is guilty," an obviously distraught Joanne Connelly, of 167 Southern Blvd., told U.S. Magistrate Arlene Lindsay at the U.S. District Court in Central Islip. "I gave some the medicine that I was prescribed to someone else . . . just twice."

Under the plea agreement, Connelly faces from 27 to 33 months in prison, prosecutors said.

She had been facing up to 20 years in prison on the distribution charge and up to another 20 years because one of the drug deals took place at her home, which is within 700 feet of Great Hollow Middle School.

Federal law allows as much as a doubling of a sentence if a drug deal occurs within a thousand feet of a school.

Her lawyer, James O'Rourke, of Hauppauge, said the plea agreement shows prosecutors were wrong at her arrest in January when they described her as "a major player" in the distribution of oxycodone to lower-level drug dealers in the Smithtown area.

"This was a tragedy that the government realized was not what it thought it was after a thorough investigation," said O'Rourke.

He said Connelly had been getting the pills from physicians who have been treating her for severe back problems since 2006 following an accident.

Before pleading guilty, Connelly said she had been undergoing treatment for addiction to the drug since shortly after her arrest.

O'Rourke said that the government was told of Connelly's alleged drug dealing role by an informant who apparently exaggerated her dealing and her distribution network.

Connelly admitted in court to distributing a total of 250 oxycodone pills between November 2010 and January 2011.

She sold drug in a crushed form that allows it to have an almost immediate effect, according to court documents.

Federal prosecutor Demetri Jones declined to comment after the plea.

Latest Long Island News