A doctor with a Nutley practice was sentenced Tuesday to more than 11 years
in prison for his role in a conspiracy that put tens of thousands of
highly addictive prescription pills on the streets for resale, U.S. Attorney
Paul J. Fishman said.
According to the evidence at trial, between July 2009 and March 2011, Michael Durante, 59, of Montclair, sold prescriptions for more than 80,000 Oxycodone pills to patients who were engaged in drug trafficking.
Prosecutors said the pills were resold at street level by two crews, with one headed by Andre Domando, 49, of Belleville, and the other by Dennis Abato, 61, of Lakewood. Both men had a stable of patients they brought to Durante’s Nutley medical practice.
Durante gave Domando and Abato prescriptions for large quantities of Oxycodone that they sold through the redistribution network.
Recordings played at trial illustrated Durante knew about
the illegal distribution. Fishman said that in a February 2011 recording,
Durante indicated he knew Domando was reselling the prescriptions for a large
profit, saying a “friend” “sells these for a thousand to twelve hundred dollars
Durante, referring to prescriptions he provided to Domando over the previous week, then stated “[s]o two last week, four this week – you should have six thousand dollars in your pocket,” adding, “I know what people do with these things. You gotta have at least twelve, fifteen thousand dollars a month of income here.”
Durante was also recorded accepting $300 from Domando in exchange for prescriptions, as well as $100 for an extra prescription he sold to an undercover agent. At trial, a witness testified that he delivered envelopes of cash to Durante in exchange for extra prescriptions.
Additionally, Durante falsified medical records in the files of the patients who received the oxycodone prescriptions. For example, Durante falsely documented physical exams, including blood pressure and heart rates, of a patient who was in Florida at the time of Durante’s purported exam. Durante falsely wrote that prescriptions had been provided to replace lost prescription, including one note that a dog may have eaten replacement prescriptions he gave to Domando.
Durante was previously convicted of 16 of the 17 counts in the superseding indictment against him: one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and 15 counts of unlawful distribution of the drug.
The jury returned the verdict on the second day of deliberations following a nearly three-month trial before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler. Chesler imposed the sentence Tuesday in Newark federal court.
In addition to the prison term, Chesler sentenced Durante to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $629,461 in restitution. Durante is also required to pay a $4,000 fine. Chesler sentenced Domando to 48 months in prison in November 2013. Abato awaits sentencing.