Doctor sentenced to state prison in painkiller scheme
A Lehigh County doctor involved in a prescription pill scheme was sentenced to state prison in Carbon County court this morning. Dr. John R. Manzella, 48, of Salisbury Township, who practiced in Carbon County, pleaded guilty to his part in a prescription painkiller scheme, which resulted in more than 10,000 oxycodone pills being distributed in a multiple county area. The street value of the pills distributed is estimated at over $300,000. Judge Steven R. Serfass sentenced him to 24 to 72 months in prison. Manzella was charged on July 23, 2013, by agents of the narcotics bureau of investigations of the AG's office. According to deputy Attorney General Christie F. Bonesch, the incidents occurredbetween January 2011 and October 2012. The charges against Manzella stem from a case against Robert J. Kosch of Newark, New Jersey, who was charged in June 2013 with using fraudulent prescriptions to obtain 17,740 oxycodone pills from three Carbon County pharmacies in 2011 and 2012. Manzella helped Kosch by creating fictitious patients for whom the drugs were "prescribed," according to an affidavit of probable cause in the Kosch case. According to the Kosch affidavit, filed June 26, 2013, with District Judge Carl Balliet of Allentown, detectives in Sussex County, New Jersey, found text messages between Kosch and Manzella that "show a conspiracy involving fraudulent prescriptions between Kosch and Dr. Manzella." In the affidavit, it was noted that "numerous" oxycodone prescriptions from Manzella filled in Bucks, Carbon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton and Schuylkill counties. Pharmacies in those counties verified several of the prescriptions with Manzella, and "more importantly, many of these names were found on Kosch's notepad." He was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.