TRENTON, NJ – An Edison man who operated a hearing aid company was sentenced to state prison Friday for conspiring with a doctor to supply a drug ring with tens of thousands of high-dose pills of the highly addictive opioid painkiller oxycodone, according to Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.
Andrew Stoveken, 68, was sentenced to seven years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Benjamin S. Bucca Jr. in Middlesex County. Over the state’s objection, Judge Bucca allowed Stoveken to remain free on bail while he pursues an appeal of his conviction. Stoveken pleaded guilty on Aug. 21 to second-degree charges of conspiracy and distribution of oxycodone.
Stoveken ran a hearing aid company and shared an office in Warren, NJ, with Dr. George Beecher, who was sentenced to prison earlier this month. Stoveken acted as a middleman between Beecher and the drug ring.
Beecher, 78, of New Providence, N.J., an ear, nose and throat specialist, was sentenced to 10 years in state prison by Judge Bucca on Dec. 3. Beecher pleaded guilty on Sept. 19 to second-degree charges of conspiracy and distribution of oxycodone. He permanently surrendered his medical license.
The investigation revealed that, in order to supply the drug ring, Beecher wrote prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose for tens of thousands of 30 mg oxycodone pills in the names of people he never examined, treated, or even met. The ring would contact Stoveken to request that he arrange for Beecher to write oxycodone prescriptions in various co-conspirators’ names. The charges were the result of “Operation Busted Script,” an investigation by the Attorney General’s Prescription Fraud Investigation Strike Team, a team of detectives and attorneys in the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau that targets corrupt healthcare professionals and “pill mills.”
Seven members of the oxycodone distribution ring were indicted separately. All seven pleaded guilty to second-degree charges of conspiracy and distribution of oxycodone. George Sara, 40, of Bordentown, N.J. was sentenced to five years in state prison. Sara purchased oxycodone in bulk to distribute. The other ring members who pleaded guilty either have been sentenced to drug court probation or are awaiting determination of their drug court applications.
“Stoveken profited by facilitating the illicit distribution of thousands of high-dose oxycodone pills,” said Attorney General Grewal. “This prison sentence reflects our determination to stop the pill mills supplying the black market for opioid pain pills, which are starting so many users on the devastating and often deadly path of opioid addiction.”
“Our Prescription Fraud Investigation Strike Team will continue to target the doctors, pharmacists and other individuals who profit by illegally distributing prescription opioids,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This sentence sends a strong deterrent message to those who engage in this corrupt conduct.”