SALEM — A Peabody man admitted yesterday to trying to fill a phony prescription for painkillers at a Salem CVS, but he had an excuse: He had been struck by a car but lacked health insurance, his lawyer told a judge.
Robert Andruskiewicz, 37, of 60 Central St., Peabody, admitted to sufficient facts on charges of receiving stolen property, passing a false prescription and identity fraud during a hearing yesterday in Salem District Court.
The charges were continued without a finding for 18 months, over the objection of a prosecutor who openly questioned Andruskiewicz's excuse.
"I have a very difficult time believing that was the reason," said prosecutor Colleen Cashman, who was urging Judge Richard Mori to find Andruskiewicz guilty. "There are other ways of dealing with pain." She suggested the pills would have been sold on the street.
She also noted that Andruskiewicz has a prior record. Continuations without a finding are generally reserved for first-time offenders.
Andruskiewicz came to the attention of Salem police Detective Bill Jennings last November. According to Cashman, Taunton police had contacted the Salem Police Department after a doctor there reported that one of his employees had stolen several pages from his prescription pad and stamped the doctor's name on them.
That employee told police in Taunton that she had been "threatened" by a Salem man into giving him the blank prescription forms.
Then, on the morning of Nov. 4, just after 8 a.m., a man using the name Daniel Andruskiewicz showed up at the CVS on Essex Street with a prescription for 240 hydrocodone tablets. Hydrocodone is the active ingredient in Vicodin and a number of other painkillers. The store refused to fill the prescription and contacted police.
Jennings was suspicious because he knew Daniel Andruskiewicz was in custody at the time at the Correctional Alternative Center in Lawrence.
Daniel Andruskiewicz told the detective it was probably his brother Robert, based on the description. And when police compared a driver's license photo of Robert Andruskiewicz to the store's surveillance tape, they had their man.
Robert Andruskiewicz's lawyer, Gary Zerola, said his client denies threatening the woman and says he actually paid her $200 for the blank script.
Zerola said his client, who works as an independent contractor with G and J Towing, was struck by a car while on the job and the other driver refused to accept responsibility, so he could not obtain medical treatment. Zerola said Andruskiewicz did not have health insurance and was in pain.
As for his prior record, Zerola said Andruskiewicz's most recent arrest came when he was riding with a contingent of Hells Angels (though Zerola said his client is not a member) during the funeral of former Boston mob boss Gennaro Angiulo last September. Angiulo's son owns the tow company where Andruskiewicz works.
Zerola said Lynn police stopped the group of riders and discovered that Andruskiewicz was carrying a knife, in violation of a city ordinance.
During his probation, Andruskiewicz will be subject to random drug testing and other conditions.