A million-dollar black market drug ring operating out of a Staten Island ice cream truck was the target of a New York Supreme Court indictment March 17 and an arrest sweep March16 and 17.
Police say the illegal oxycodone sales out of an ice cream truck grossed over $1 million in operations that were charted between July 2009 and June 2010, Richmond County prosecutors said.
“Today’s takedown should obliterate any delusions that prescription painkillers are safer and more respectable than so-called ‘street drugs,’” said Staten Island District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan Jr. in a statement. “In many ways, this new trend of illegal drugs is no different than the crack epidemic that plagued our city in the 1990s: Both are highly addictive narcotics, both engender violent crime and both destroy lives and communities.”
The ring-leaders are said to be Louis Scala, 40, owner and driver of a truck dubbed “Lickety Split.” He worked with Joseph Zaffuto, 39, and Nancy Wilkins, 40, to obtain the pills.
Wilkins, an office manager for a Manhattan orthopedic surgeon, stole physician’s pads from the office and sold the sheets to Scala and Zaffuto, who was a patient at the office of Wilkins’ employer.
Scala and Zaffuto then hired “dozens of individuals” to take the illegal prescriptions to pharmacies and get them filled. The recruits were either paid in cash or oxycodone, according to authorities.
Suspicion was raised when one of the robbers, Raymond Cappola, 24, was implicated in a string of armed robberies at pharmacies in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Cappola was identified as someone “who had been turned away while trying to fill a suspicious prescription.” Police reviewed Cappola’s activities and noticed a pattern.
Police say that Scala and Zaffuto obtained 317 fraudulent prescriptions, turning them into nearly 43,000 pills.
Scala, Zaffuto and Wilkins are all charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and other charges. Scala was released on $15,000 bail on March 16. Bail for Zaffuto and Wilkins was set at $15,000 and $5,000 respectively.