MIDDLETOWN: PAIN DOC SENTENCED

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A former Red Bank physician who once ran an illegal prescription painkiller ring was sentenced to six years in New Jersey state prison last week.

Middletown resident Kenneth Lewandowski, 53, who Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni once called “parasitic,” was sentenced Friday to six years in prison with a two-year period of parole ineligibility under a plea deal accepted by  Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley.

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RUMSON: PRINTER CITED FOR RX PAD LAPSES

AUTHORITIES_RUMSON2New Jersey authorities have barred a Rumson print shop from producing blank prescription forms used by doctors after an investigation uncovered lax controls, state Attorney General John Hoffman announced Tuesday.

Nelson Press, based on East River Road, was found to have unwittingly provided Rx pads to a Middletown physician whose medical license was suspended, the state Division of Consumer Affairs said in a press release. The failure enabled the physician, who has since been arrested as the head of an alleged drug ring, to “obtain and write unauthorized prescriptions in another physician’s name for oxycodone and other potentially addictive painkillers,” the state alleged.

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RUMSON: EMERGENCY REPORTED AT OXFORD

oxford house 121713Oxford House on South Ward Avenue at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A medical emergency at Oxford House, the controversial addiction recovery residence that opened in Rumson without public notice in August, had neighbors buzzing about a possible second overdose there Tuesday.

Police Chief Scot Patterson tells redbankgreen that paramedics were called to the house on South Ward Avenue sometime after 5:30 a.m. on a report of an unresponsive person inside. Paterson said he did not know the nature of the emergency.

“All I know is that when the person left, he was alive and being treated by paramedics,” Paterson said.

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PRESS: MEDICAL MARIJUANA CASE POSTPONED

The marijuana possession case against former Fair Haven resident Eric Hafner was postponed two weeks by a Middletown judge Monday, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Hafner, 20, was the subject of a redbankgreen article in January. He claims he has a constitutional right to use marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder, even though a two-year-old state law allowing medical marijuana possession and use does not include PSTD.

Hafner, who now lives in California, vows to go to jail rather than plead guilty.

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FAIR HAVEN MAN VOWS FIGHT OVER POT BUST

“I’m not going to stop doing what I’m doing,” says medical marijuana advocate Eric Hafner. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Among those cheering at the Statehouse when New Jersey’s law allowing medical marijuana passed in January, 2010 was Eric Hafner, an 18-year-old who found in cannabis what he did not in prescription drugs: relief from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) brought on by a “traumatic, horrifying” incident two years earlier.

Two years later, however, the law has yet to be implemented, and Hafner is a facing a charge of possessing less than 50 grams of marijuana as a result of an early-morning traffic stop in Middletown in late November.

But even though the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act as written would not have protected him from prosecution had it been put into effect, Hafner says he will not plead guilty, as is customary in hundreds of such busts that go through the municipal court each year. Instead, he says, he’s prepared to go to jail to protest what he believes are the law’s shortcomings and to assert what he says is a constitutional right.

“I’m not going to plead guilty to using my medicine,” he says.

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RIVERVIEW PLANS $15M SURGICAL MAKEOVER

red-bank-riverviewRiverview plans to add two surgical suites to handle a growing number of surgeries, officials say. (Click to enlarge)

Red Bank’s Riverview Medical Center is planning a $15 million upgrade to its surgical facilities in coming months to meet rising demand, hospital officials announced Monday.

Expected to start this spring and to take some 16 months to complete, the work calls for the creation of two new high-tech surgical suites, bringing the total number of operating rooms to 12, says Riverview president Tim Hogan.

To make room for the new facilities at the east end of the third floor of the Blaisdell Pavilion, an existing same-day-surgery center will be relocated to the west end and modernized.

“This is a sizeable project for us,” Hogan tells redbankgreen.

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