Haverhill Man Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to Prison in Connections with Prescription Fraud Scheme to Obtain, Sell Oxycodone
Responsible for Diverting Thousands of Pills to the Streets
SALEM – A Haverhill man has pleaded guilty in connection with prescription and credit card fraud and identity theft in a scheme to obtain and sell oxycodone tablets, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. The scheme involved fraudulent prescriptions, thousands of oxycodone tablets, numerous counterfeit credit cards, and compromised more than 50 identities. He was sentenced to four-and-a-half to five years in state prison.
Vincent Leo, age 38, of Haverhill, pleaded guilty on Monday in Essex Superior Court to the following charges:
- Identity Fraud (15 counts)
- Uttering a False Prescription (21 counts)
- Unlawful Distribution of Controlled Substance, Class B (3 counts)
- Conspiracy to Commit Identify Fraud (1 count)
- Credit Card Fraud (1 counts)
- Larceny Over $250
- Larceny Under $250 (2 counts)
After the plea was entered, Judge Timothy Feeley sentenced Leo to four-and-a-half to five years in state prison, with three years of probation to serve upon his release. Judge Feeley also ordered that Leo receive substance abuse evaluation and random drug testing, and ordered him to stay away from the witnesses in the case.
“This defendant ran a sophisticated scheme to illegally obtain and sell oxycodone and is responsible for putting thousands of these pills on the streets,” said AG Healey. “The heroin and prescription drug epidemic is devastating families and communities across our state and we will continue to hold accountable those who fuel it.”
The AG’s Office began an investigation in 2013 in conjunction with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
From 2012 to 2014, Leo created hundreds of fraudulent prescriptions in order to obtain oxycodone tablets. Leo obtained prescription paper and used the names of physicians and the prescription authorization numbers for various providers to create fraudulent documents. He used his own phone number on those slips in case the pharmacy called, and if they did, he impersonated the physician.
The investigation also revealed that Leo posed as a patient or a nurse when filling the prescriptions. Leo is responsible for unlawfully obtaining and distributing thousands of Oxycodone tablets.
According to authorities, Leo was also involved in a credit card fraud scheme with Deana Vitale, who used a skimming device at Copperhouse Tavern in Waltham to capture customers’ credit card information. Vitale then gave the device to Leo who used the information to create fraudulent credit cards in those customers’ names. Vitale is facing charges in Waltham District Court for her part in the scheme.
Leo was indicted by a statewide grand jury on Nov. 3, 2014. He was arraigned on Dec. 4, 2014 in Essex Superior Court. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Monday.
Shortly before taking office, Attorney General Maura Healey announced the formation of an internal AG’s task force to more aggressively combat the heroin and prescription drug abuse crisis in Massachusetts.
A recent report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health estimates that more than 1,000 people died from overdoses of heroin and opioids in 2014 in Massachusetts, which is a 33 percent increase from 2012.
AG Healey has vowed to use a multi-faceted approach to improve the prescription monitoring program, educate prescribers, pursue illegal drug traffickers and pill mills, and expand access to recovery and treatment programs.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Cara Krysil, Chief of the AG Healey’s Enterprise and Major Crimes Division with assistance from State Police assigned to the AG’s Office, Paralegal Emily Bartlett and the AG’s Digital Evidence Lab. The FBI, DEA, the United States Secret Service, and the Haverhill Police Department also assisted in the case.