By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three people have been arrested on charges that they engaged in what court papers describe as one of the largest schemes ever uncovered to divert oxycodone pills involving pharmacies in New York City, U.S. prosecutors said Thursday.
Lilian Jakacki, who owns two pharmacies in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, was arrested in Greenwich, Connecticut late Wednesday along with her husband, Marcin Jakacki, for illegally distributing 500,000 pills of the highly-addictive painkiller.
An indictment said the two collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash payments by illegally selling the pills to among others Robert Cybulski, a Staten Island resident who was one of the largest purchasers and was likewise arrested.
The charges as well as a related civil lawsuit were announced by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was scheduled to hold a press conference later Thursday to discuss the case and the dangers of prescription drug abuses.
Lawyers for the defendants could not be immediately identified.
Oxycodone, whose distribution is heavily regulated, has enormous cash value to drug dealers and is abused by over 13 million Americans annually, the indictment said.
According to court papers, Lilian Jakacki, a licensed pharmacist, owned two pharmacies doing business at Chopin Chemists in Queens and Brooklyn.
Beginning in 2010, she, her husband and Cybulski worked to illegally distribute oxycodone pills that had a street value of over $10 million, the indictment said.
The Brooklyn pharmacy alone became the leading purchaser of oxycodone tablets in its zip code, which included two national chain stores, the indictment said.
An Drug Enforcement Administration audit found that of 760,000 pills ordered from January 2011 to June 2013, 430,000 were dispensed without a prescription, and hundreds more were sold based on fake or stolen prescription forms, the indictment said.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy)