FAIRFIELD, Conn. — A doctor with an office in Fairfield is facing up to a year in federal prison after pleading guilty to illegally prescribing oxycodone to an out-of-state couple.
Dr. Paul Bellofiore, 56, a Trumbull resident, pleaded guilty Thursday in Hartford federal court to one count of issuing unlawful prescriptions for oxycodone, U.S. Attorney for Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly said Friday.
“Medical practitioners play a critical role in battling the epidemic of opioid abuse that we are experiencing,” said Daly. “The strict rules associated with prescribing controlled substances are in place for a reason: to help ensure that these highly addictive narcotics aren’t abused or illegally diverted. Those who knowingly prescribe opiates in violation of federal law will be prosecuted.”
According to court documents and statements made in court, Bellofiore is a physician with an office in Fairfield. Two of Bellofiore's longtime patients were a married couple who lived in Connecticut until about 2011, when they relocated to Florida.
Bellofiore knew that, before moving to Florida, the couple had unlawfully obtained forged prescriptions for opioid medications from his former medical assistant. As a result, he should have been aware of the possibility that the couple was abusing or diverting their medications.
After moving to Florida, the couple traveled to Connecticut twice per year, scheduling medical appointments with Bellofiore during those visits. At the end of each appointment, he provided the couple with six months of predated prescriptions, including prescriptions for oxycodone, to last until their next appointment.
At times, the couple was unable to travel to Connecticut to see Bellofiore and obtain their prescriptions in person. In those cases, he left the predated prescriptions for a friend or relative of the couple to pick up from the doctor's office.
It was Bellofiore's understanding that the friend or relative would fill the prescriptions each month at a pharmacy in Connecticut and mail the medications to the couple in Florida.
In February 2016, Bellofiore provided a stack of prescriptions to a friend of the married couple. The prescriptions, which were improperly dated to make it appear that they were issued at monthly intervals after February 2016, authorized the couple to receive thousands of pills of oxycodone and Percocet, a medication containing oxycodone.
Bellofiore also failed to include on the prescriptions the couple’s address in Florida, which might have alerted a pharmacist filling the prescriptions in Connecticut to the possibility that the medications were being abused or diverted.
The couple subsequently diverted a significant amount of their medications for profit by arranging through a middleman for street-level resale of the pills in and around Waterbury.
The Controlled Substances Act prohibits physicians from dispensing any Schedule II controlled substance, including oxycodone, without a valid written prescription. The prescription must be “dated as of, and signed on, the day when issued” and “bear the full name and address of the patient.”
A practitioner also may not issue multiple prescriptions at any single time authorizing a patient to receive more than a 90-day supply of a Schedule II controlled substance.
Bellofiore is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant on Jan. 11. In addition to a maximum of a year in prison, he faces a fine of up to $100,000.
He was released pending sentencing. As a condition of his release, he is prohibited from writing prescriptions for controlled substances.
This investigation was conducted by the DEA’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad, which includes officers from the Bristol, Greenwich, Hamden, Milford, New Haven, Shelton, Vernon and Wilton Police Departments. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Avi M. Perry.