Stroudsburg, Monroe County – A drug ring leader who helped distribute tens of thousands of illegal prescription pills across northeastern Pennsylvania plead guilty Wednesday morning. The self-proclaimed “Script King” surprised many when he publically admitted his role in the major drug operation.
Romagnolo plead guilty to participating in a corrupt organization and obtaining drugs by fraud. Former Narcotics Agent Troy Serfass investigated the case. He said, "John was pretty much the primary person that started this organization. He started it and was able to recruit more than one hundred and some people to participate in this organization."
Serfass explained Romagnolo worked to get bogus prescriptions from a doctor’s assistant in New York City. He said young people from northeastern Pennsylvania filled those prescriptions then helped Romagnolo distribute the pills.
Romagnolo’s attorney, Mike Ventrella, insists his client wasn’t directly involved in drug distribution. "He was addicted to oxycotin pills and he got conned by an unscrupulous doctor and his nurse and pretty much in order to feed his habit he was helping other people get their own pills as well,” he said.
The defense attorney told Eyewitness News Romagnolo didn’t make cash profits from his participation. He said Romagnolo earned pills to feed his addiction. Ventrella added, "I don't put him in the same category as the type of person who goes out and preys on school kids or stand on the corner selling drugs or profits from it."
Prosecutors say Romagnolo’s actions helped many people get addicted and turn to lives of crime. "Anybody that was involved with John knows exactly what he was doing and John knows exactly what he was doing. That's why he pled guilty today,” said Serfass.
Now prosecutors hope to get guilty pleas or a guilty verdict on the people who they say sold the illegal prescriptions to Romagnolo, Patricia and Hector Rodriguez in New York City. Serfass said, "Being able to get a guilty plea from John Romagnolo has been very important to the case and I'm glad to see the case move forward."
Romagnolo will be sentenced later this summer. He could face up to 14 years in prison.