Madison residents and officials remained shocked Saturday following the arrest of Councilman Vincent Esposito for allegedly writing fraudulent prescriptions.
Esposito, 54, a general practitioner with an office on Main Street and who has been the Madison High School football team's doctor for nearly two decades, has been charged with distribution of a controlled dangerous substance and conspiracy, both second-degree charges.
“The whole town is humming,” said former Councilman Sammy Cerciello, who served on the council with Esposito. “Yeah, [the council] are shocked. They feel bad for what happened to Doc. It’s a shame.”
Current councilmembers have deferred comment to Borough Attorney Joe Mezzacca.
According to the Attorney General's Office, Esposito allegedly sold OxyContin and variations of oxycodone by writing fraudulent prescriptions for undercover cops and confidential informants.
Following a year-long investigation, DEA agents on Thursday arrested Esposito, affectionately known in Madison as “Doc,” and processed him in Newark, according to Mezzacca, who said the Republican councilman was released on bail.
The soft-spoken Esposito, a 1975 graduate of Madison High School before graduating Upsala College, came home from the American University in St. Martin where he studied medicine and did not stray far from his boyhood home on North Street.
His father, Alfredo, worked for the borough’s Department of Public Works, while his mother, Anna, was a housekeeper at Saint Elizabeth. Both of his parents were immigrants from Italy and recently died, leaving the home to their son.
Many of his patients came from the neighborhood where he grew up and continues to live. His home on Buckingham Drive was part of a housing development built while he was growing up and where there were once greenhouses, adjacent to the older neighborhood bounded by Myrtle Avenue and North Street.
Esposito lives with his wife and has three adult-aged children. One neighbor, who declined to be identified, said Esposito loves Halloween and his front yard is traditionally filled in October with his own spooky creations.
Other residents Patch spoke to on Saturday were also shocked by the news, but declined to be identified for this story.
Esposito has been the Madison High football team's doctor for nearly 20 years and has been the school district's physician for about five years.
Board of Education President Lisa Ellis, who grew up with Esposito, said Saturday she was among those shocked at the accusations against the councilman. She said Esposito may no longer be able to continue with the school district in his position, which included signing off on physicals for athletes.
“[Superintendent] Dr. [Michael] Rossi will be looking into this next week,“ she said.
According to a statement released Friday by the state Attorney General’s Office, agents investigated Esposito for a year and alleged that Esposito wrote prescriptions for 120 pills of 30 milligrams in exchange for cash, without performing an physical examination.
In some cases, authorities allege the prescriptions were written for people who did not visit his office located at 322 Main St. They are charging that Esposito was paid $90 for a prescription of 120 pills of 30 milligrams, considered a high dose.
Esposito surrendered his federal registration to write prescriptions for controlled dangerous substances, the statement said.
According to the statement, Thomas R. Calcagni, director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, issued an emergent order immediately suspending Esposito’s New Jersey CDS registration.
According statement, the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners will consider additional action concerning Esposito’s state medical license.
Esposito has hired Morristown-based criminal attorney Peter Gilbreth. Messages for Esposito and Gilbreth have not been returned.
It is not immediately known if Esposito will step down from his seat on the council. Esposito, whose term expires this year, did not attend Thursday night's budget hearing. Esposito ran unsuccessfully for council in 2006 and 2007 before earning a seat in 2008.
Cerciello, who grew up on Park Avenue at the top of North Street, said Esposito's arrest was “unfortunate,“ and people “shouldn’t judge and pray for him."