Daniel Russo, a Cedarhurst resident who was a pharmacist in Far Rockaway, pleaded guilty in federal court on Feb. 17 to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone, distribution and possession of oxycodone, and nine counts of filing false personal and corporate tax returns.
When Russo, 44, is sentenced he could face up to 20 years in prison for each of the drug counts and up to three years for each of the tax counts. He owned and operated Russo’s Pharmacy in Far Rockaway.
Between March 2011 and June 2014, he allegedly conspired with others, including medical professionals and employees of a doctor, to fill bogus prescriptions for oxycodone and dispense thousands of oxycodone pills in return for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.
“Russo was a drug dealer in a white coat,” Eastern District attorney Breon Peace stated in the news release. “He abused his pharmacy license and the trust placed in him by the community to illegally distribute enormous amounts of oxycodone, spreading misery in the community and fueling addiction, all to enrich himself.”
He then filed fraudulent corporate income tax returns for his pharmacy from 2013 through 2016, omitting the proceeds of his scheme, and false individual income tax returns from 2012 through 2016.
Russo is charged with failing to report more than $1 million in cash earnings, most of it generated from his oxycodone distribution scheme. More than a dozen doctors for whom Russo filled prescriptions have since been convicted of crimes related to the distribution of oxycodone, said officials from the Eastern District Attorney’s Office.
The Drug Enforcement Agency’s Long Island Tactical Diversion Squad, including agents and officers of the DEA, Nassau and Suffolk police departments, and the Port Washington and Rockville Centre police departments, led the investigation.
The DEA Tactical Diversion Squad also worked in conjunction with officers and agents of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General and New York City Department of Investigation.
“This plea solidifies the fact that Russo blatantly ignored his role as a medical practitioner in order to line his pockets with cash, DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Frank Tarentino said in the release.