December 15 2015

Man Charged with Oxycodone Scheme with Burlington Connection Pled Guilty


A man accused of a prescription drug distribution scheme that had a connection to Burlington has admitted to wrongdoing. 


Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan announced that Joseph Khabbaz, 34, of Tewksbury, pled guilty Tuesday in Middlesex Superior Court to two counts of distribution of Oxycodone, four counts of uttering a forged prescription for a controlled substance, and conspiracy to distribute Oxycodone, a release from the DA’s office state. 


Judge Robert Gordon sentenced Khabbaz to two and a half years in the House of Correction and five years probation. Judge Gordon also ordered the defendant undergo a mandatory substance abuse evaluation and any treatment recommended by the Department of Probation.


“It is important that we hold individuals responsible for putting illegal and addictive substances on the streets,” stated District Attorney Ryan. “During a time when the opioid crisis continues to escalate, the defendant in this case took advantage of individuals suffering from addiction and personally recruited the ‘runners’ in this scheme to distribute Oxycodone.”


From June to December of 2012, Khabbaz and his alleged coconspirator Howard Barter, 33, of Tewksbury, hired opioid addicts to fill forged Oxycodone prescriptions in exchange for cash or drugs, the release states. After the prescriptions were filled, the defendant would then sell the Oxycodone. The scheme resulted in the unlawful diversion of at least 3,000 pills with a black market value of $90,000. The forged prescriptions were filled at pharmacies in Billerica, Burlington, Lowell, Malden, Tewksbury, Waltham, Watertown, and Wilmington.


According to authorities, Barter is charged with distributing a counterfeit substance, four counts of uttering a false prescription for a controlled substance, and conspiracy to distribute Oxycodone. These charges are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. His trial is scheduled to begin on April 19, 2016.


District Attorney Ryan also works closely with local law enforcement partners providing them with Narcan training for first responders and the distribution of Drug Collection Units to provide the public with a safe, accessible way to properly dispose of unused or expired medications.

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