New York pharmacist charged with narcotics and tax fraud offenses


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Allegedly distributed oxycodone and filed false tax returns

Date: January 23, 2020


A 12-count indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Daniel E. Russo, a pharmacist, with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone, distribution and possession of oxycodone, distribution of oxycodone by a pharmacist without legitimate prescription and filing false tax returns. Russo was arrested this morning by federal agents and arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak. The defendant was released on a $1.5 million bond.

Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Ray Donovan, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Richard E. Zuckerman, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Tax Division, and Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the charges.

According to the indictment, Russo owned and operated Russo's Pharmacy Inc., a drug store located in Far Rockaway, New York. From March 2011 through June 2014, Russo allegedly conspired with others including medical professionals and employees of a physician, to fill fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone and dispense thousands of oxycodone pills in return for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. The indictment also alleges that for the years 2013 through 2016, Russo filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) false tax returns on behalf of Russo's Pharmacy that omitted cash received from the illegal oxycodone distribution scheme. The indictment further charges that during those years, Russo underreported income on his own personal returns. In total, Russo is charged with failing to report over $1 million in cash, most of it generated from his oxycodone distribution scheme.

More than a dozen physicians for whom Russo filled prescriptions have since been convicted of crimes related to the distribution of oxycodone.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted, Russo faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each of the conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute counts, and three years in prison for each count of filing a false tax return. The defendant also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties, as well as forfeiture.

This case is being investigated by the IRS-Criminal Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nomi D. Berenson and Trial Attorney Michael C. Vasiliadis of the Tax Division, are prosecuting the case.