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DA Alvin Brag busts Staten Island drug ring involving doctor

A Manhattan doctor was indicted over a drug-dealing scheme in which he allegedly wrote prescriptions for pills — including opioids and Adderall — that were then sold on the street, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Dr. Noel Smith, a Tribeca family physician, is accused of writing scripts for five men who then conspired to distribute the tens of thousands of the pills through illegal street-level sales on Staten Island, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

The drug ring was busted after investigators found Smith was allegedly prescribing controlled substances in a “manner inconsistent with public health and safety,” prosecutors said.

The doc is accused of writing prescriptions for Adderall, Klonopin and Suboxone for five of the men: Timothy Bonaguro, Ivan Iorizzo, Mark Lanfranchi, Louis Ventafredda and Christopher Gorga, a NYCHA employee.

DR. NOEL SMITH at his arraignment.
The ring was busted after investigators found Smith was prescribing controlled drugs in a “manner inconsistent with public health and safety.”

One of the men sits and covers his face.
Carmine Russo hides his face during arraignment.

DR. NOEL SMITH at his arraignment.
Dr. Noel Smith was indicted for writing prescriptions for men who sold the drugs on Staten Island streets.

Police help the men in court sit down.
Ivan Iorizz, left, Russo and Elia Albanese were part of a drug ring that sold tens of thousands of pills on Staten Island streets, officials said.

The men, along with alleged associate Anthony Santo, devised a scheme that maximized their hauls of pills and allowed to build up a mountain of drugs, prosecutors charged. They would fill the prescriptions that were written in their names and assume the identity of one another to obtain as many pills as possible before hawking them.

The accused dealers carried out similar schemes with alleged associates Elia Albanese and Carmine Russo to get oxycodone pills from a different Midtown Manhattan doctor, prosecutors said.

City officials had been following the drug ring through a wiretap investigation for one year, according to the DA’s Office.

Smith was charged with several counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance by a practitioner and pleaded not guilty in Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday. The other eight defendants men were hit with a slew of charges, ranging from the criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance and identity theft.

Six others also pleaded not guilty. Bonaguro, Gorga, Lanfranchi were awaiting arraignment.

Because the charges are not bail eligible, the men were released, though prosecutors requested they surrender their passports.

“As alleged, these defendants used the ongoing opioid crisis to exploit the suffering and addiction of others. And to make matters worse, a trusted Manhattan doctor prescribed pills to the defendants, which were then sold illegally to New Yorkers,” said District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement.

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