FREEHOLD, NJ - A Monmouth County grand jury handed up an 8-count indictment Monday charging a suspended Middletown physician and his assistants with operating a prescription drug ring run, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Dr. Kenneth Lewandowski, 52, of 35 Tatum Dr. in Middletown, Thomas Menendez, of 204 Geary Drive in Middletown, and Ronald Scott, 64, of 18 Encinitas Drive in Toms River, are each charged with second degree Conspiracy and third degree Unlawful Practice of Medicine. Lewandowski and Menendez also face charges of second degree Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (oxycodone), third degree Forgery and third degree Uttering a Forged Document. Scott also faces one count of third degree Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (oxycodone).
Lewandowski is being held in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, Freehold Township, on $101,000 bail, as set by Middletown Municipal Court Judge Richard Thompson. Menendez is free on $30,000 bail, as set by Judge Thompson. Scott is not incarcerated.
If convicted of the second degree offense, each of the defendants faces a sentence of up to ten years in a New Jersey state prison, and if convicted of the third degree offense, they each face a sentence of three to five years in a New Jersey state prison.
Lewandowski was previously arrested on Dec. 18, 2014, as part of a joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics and Criminal Enterprise Unit, Middletown Police Department and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) into a suspected prescription drug ring involving Lewandowski, Thomas Menendez and Ronald Scott.
During the investigation it was learned Lewandowski, whose license to practice medicine and surgery is currently under a temporary suspension, conspired with his former office manage, Menendez, to sell forged prescription blanks for Oxycodone. They obtained prescription pads in the name of a licensed doctor without consent and then sold the prescription blanks for cash without any type of medical needs assessment. Lewandowski’s old patient files from his now defunct pain management practice in Red Bank were utilized to find subjects eager to purchase the forged prescriptions for a price of $300 to $400 per prescription. The prescriptions themselves were filled out by Lewandowski in the name of the licensed doctor without his knowledge. Lewandowski and Menendez also conspired with Scott, a physician’s assistant, who wrote prescriptions for Lewandowski’s former patients without the approval of a licensed physician.
Middletown police began its investigation after receiving information from a local pharmacy that a subject presented a fraudulent prescription attempting to obtain Oxycodone on November 24, 2014. That investigation resulted in information being developed implicating numerous patients as well as Lewandowski and Menendez acting as his business partner being involved in the unlawful distribution and dispensing of Oxycodone.
Investigators from the state Division of Consumer Affairs also received a complaint from the licensed doctor that the prescriptions being utilized by the Prescription Drug ring were issued without his knowledge. The MCPO Narcotics and Criminal Enterprise Unit worked along with Middletown Township Police Department and the DCA to investigate the licensed doctor’s complaint and the complaint from the pharmacies in the township. They quickly identified Lewandowski and Menendez as the people behind the prescription drug ring. They utilized the cover of opening a legitimate medical clinic to dupe the unsuspecting doctor into releasing the personal information necessary for them to complete the forgery of prescription blanks in his name.
During the search of Lewandowski’s residence numerous forged prescription blanks were recovered, as well as medical records, and cash.
“We place a high-level of responsibility into the hands of our doctors and medical professionals, and when that trust is perverted for profit everyone loses. We are fighting for our collective lives against prescription painkiller drug abuse and the heroin epidemic, while these individuals were feeding off of its victims and their addictions,” Gramiccioni said. “Prescription opiates are killing our kids, family members and neighbors in record numbers. Medical professionals at every level have a sworn duty to treat people and find ways to make them better – not to enslave them with prescription painkillers.”
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.
The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Paul Alexander, of the Office’s Narcotics and Criminal Enterprises Unit.
Lewandowski is represented by George J. Mardinly, Esq., of Rumson.
Menendez and Scott do not have attorneys on record, as of this date.