By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - An ice cream vendor who peddled prescription painkillers from the same truck he sold frozen treats to kids, was sentenced on Tuesday to three and a half years in prison.
The sentence was part of a plea deal struck by Louis Scala, 30, the head of a $1 million drug-trafficking ring run out of his Lickety Split truck, prosecutors said. He pleaded guilty in August to one count of conspiracy and one count of criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Scala, 30, obtained the drugs with a prescription pad stolen by an accomplice from a Manhattan doctor's office. Through a network of more than two dozen runners, he was able to get nearly 43,000 oxycodone pills between July 2009 and June 2010, with a street value of $20 apiece, prosecutors said.
Scala drove his Lickety Split truck through neighborhoods in Staten Island, selling ice cream to children while inviting adults into the back to buy pills.
Recreational use of oxycodone, often known by the brand name OxyContin, produces an addictive, heroin-like high.
The city's Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor says the number of oxycodone prescriptions filled in New York City doubled between 2007 and 2010 to 1 million, evidence of a "dangerous drug epidemic."
Scala, wearing a sweater and casual pants, was kissed by his father and uncle in court and then faced Judge Jill Korviser. He declined the chance to speak before he was sentenced.
Scala's relatives declined to speak after the hearing.
"The family now just want to move on," Patrick Parrotta, Scala's attorney, told reporters.
Charges against Scala's alleged partner in crime, Joseph Zuffalo, are still pending.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)