Dirty doctors, some with ties to organized crime are running illegal medical practices in New Jersey.

The State Commission of Investigations unveils its findings. (Photo by Kevin McArdle, Townsquare Media)

That's according to a new report released by the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) detailing the latest findings of a comprehensive probe into prescription pill and heroin abuse in New Jersey.

In one scheme, homeless Medicaid patients and drug addicts in downtown Newark were regularly transported by van to a strip mall "medical center," where a doctor gave them unnecessary prescriptions for powerful painkillers as part of a plot to bilk government health insurance. That doctor, who had ties to Russian organized crime, would hand patients a $10 gift card as a thanks.

In another scam, a chiropractic office operating out of a seemingly abandoned building in Camden was home to a painkiller prescription emporium that resulted in the distribution hundreds of thousands of addictive pain pills - including, during one 19-month period, the equivalent of nearly 10 kilograms of the painkilling drug Oxycodone with a street value estimated at nearly $10 million.

  • Read the full report here.

"The report we are releasing reveals the existence of illicit medical practices run by unscrupulous entrepreneurs and corrupt physicians, some with ties to organized crime," says SCI Chair Pat Hobbs. "We believe that the finding of this investigation warrant tougher financial and criminal penalties for the improper diversion of prescription drugs….We're also recommended the creation of a statewide, multi-agency law enforcement task force to coordinate and assist with major prescription pill and heroin investigations."

The report says underground drug operations are taking place in parking lots, schools and intersections.

"Some medical management companies with names that incorporate benign terms like 'pain management' and 'wellness' have transformed street corner drugdealing into an orderly and seemingly ordinary business endeavor," the SCI report states. "Even as law enforcement authorities, public health officials, social workers, treatment counselors, schools and families redouble their efforts to combat the purveyors and consequences of this predatory scourge, it continues to evolve in ways that few could have imagined when the so-called war on drugs was launched more than four decades ago."

The SCI has referred its findings to the Office of the Attorney General, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, the State Board of Medical Examiners and the Office of the County Prosecutors in each of the state's 21 counties.

Beyond the referrals, the Commission called for action on a series of reforms, including:

  • Stronger oversight of the medical community, particularly in the area of establishing explicit prescription standards for physicians.
  • Better regulation of medical practice ownership and management.
  • Improve and strengthen New Jersey's Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP).
  • Amend the State's Criminal Code to establish a more realistic threshold for triggering charges of criminal possession of heroin with intent to distribute.