FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- A Florida couple has been charged with illegally distributing oxycodone in Connecticut after obtaining it from a Fairfield doctor, according to U.S. Attorney for Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly.
A federal grand jury in New Haven returned an indictment Oct. 19 charging Harry Duren, 73, and Sandra Duren, 53, both of Seminole, Fla., with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, oxycodone, Daly said.
The Durens appeared Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah A. L. Merriam in New Haven and were released on $50,000 bond each.
According to statements made in court, between January 2005 and July 2016, Harry and Sandra Duren obtained prescriptions for medications containing oxycodone from doctors in Connecticut, including Dr. Paul Bellofiore, and then arranged to resell their medications for their own profit.
Bellofiore, 56, a Trumbull resident who has a doctor's office in Fairfield, faces up to a year in federal prison after pleading guilty Oct. 13 t o to one count of issuing unlawful prescriptions for oxycodone for illegally prescribing the painkiller to the out-of-state couple.
The couple subsequently diverted a significant amount of their medications for profit by arranging through a middleman for street-level resale of the pills in and around Waterbury, Daly said.
If convicted, Harry Duren and Sandra Duren each face a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million.
According to court documents and statements made in court, two of Bellofiore's longtime patients were the Durens, a married couple who lived in Connecticut until about 2011, when they relocated to Florida.
Bellofiore knew that, before moving to Florida, the couple had unlawfully obtained forged prescriptions for opioid medications from his former medical assistant, according to officials. As a result, he should have been aware of the possibility that the couple was abusing or diverting their medications, Daly said.
After moving to Florida, the couple traveled to Connecticut twice per year, scheduling medical appointments with Bellofiore during those visits. At the end of each appointment, he provided the couple with six months of predated prescriptions, including prescriptions for oxycodone, to last until their next appointment, Daly said.
At times, the couple was unable to travel to Connecticut to see Bellofiore and obtain their prescriptions in person. In those cases, he left the predated prescriptions for a friend or relative of the couple to pick up from the doctor's office, Daly said.
It was Bellofiore's understanding that the friend or relative would fill the prescriptions each month at a pharmacy in Connecticut and mail the medications to the couple in Florida.
In February 2016, Bellofiore provided a stack of prescriptions to a friend of the married couple, Daly said. The prescriptions, which were improperly dated to make it appear that they were issued at monthly intervals after February 2016, authorized the couple to receive thousands of pills of oxycodone and Percocet, a medication containing oxycodone, according to court documents.
Bellofiore also failed to include on the prescriptions the couple’s address in Florida, which might have alerted a pharmacist filling the prescriptions in Connecticut to the possibility that the medications were being abused or diverted.
The Controlled Substances Act prohibits physicians from dispensing any Schedule II controlled substance, including oxycodone, without a valid written prescription. The prescription must be “dated as of, and signed on, the day when issued” and “bear the full name and address of the patient.”
A practitioner also may not issue multiple prescriptions at any single time authorizing a patient to receive more than a 90-day supply of a Schedule II controlled substance.
Bellofiore is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant on Jan. 11. In addition to a maximum of a year in prison, he faces a fine of up to $100,000.
He was released pending sentencing. As a condition of his release, he is prohibited from writing prescriptions for controlled substances.
The DEA’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad includes officers from the Bristol, Greenwich, Hamden, Milford, New Haven, Shelton, Vernon and Wilton Police Departments.
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