A 60-year-old Somerset County cardiologist has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for unlawfully prescribing thousands of oxycodone pills, U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger announced.

Raymond Catania, of Warren, previously pleaded guilty in Trenton federal court to dispensing oxycodone outside his professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.

He was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Wednesday.

Catania co-owned a private practice in Watchung, during which he issued prescriptions for the powerful painkiller to one patient and that patient’s wife, without a legitimate medical purpose, Sellinger said.

Over the course of about a year ending in March 2017, Catania prescribed more than 8,600 oxycodone 30 mg pills to the couple.

Oxycodone is an opioid with a high potential for addiction.

Drug overdose deaths involving prescription opioids rose from 3,442 in 1999 to 17,029 in 2017, according to federal data collected through the National Center for Health Statistics.

Catania also was fined $25,000 and sentenced to three years of supervised release, following the prison term.

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