A Long Island physician was indicted Wednesday on federal charges of illegally peddling prescription drugs, the latest in a string of doctor arrests following a fatal shooting at a pharmacy this year by an addict seeking painkillers.
Dr. Frank Telang was arrested at his home in Port Jefferson Station at 8:15 a.m., according to federal authorities. He was awaiting arraignment in U.S. District Court, and his lawyer was not immediately available for comment.
Telang was accused of selling prescriptions for oxycodone and other painkillers for cash to several undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agents posing as patients. Telang wrote the prescriptions without examining any of them, and they had no apparent medical need, according to court papers filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen Bode.
The arrest was part of an ongoing federal probe into the practice of illegal sale of painkillers, and comes amid a heightened awareness of prescription painkiller abuse following the massacre of four people inside a Medford pharmacy in June.
David Laffer, who pleaded guilty in the case, made off with thousands of powerful painkillers after shooting two employees and two customers. He said at his sentencing last month to consecutive life prison terms that he had “shopped” for doctors willing to prescribe the drugs with few or no questions asked, and hoped his case would lead authorities to examine the phenomenon.
Another Long Island doctor, Leonard Stambler of Baldwin, pleaded not guilty this month to charges of illegally selling prescriptions for painkillers from his home and car.
In late November, a pain management doctor whose patients included Laffer was charged in New York City with selling prescriptions to addicts and drug dealers, and at least 10 of his patients went on to die of overdoses.
Dr. Stan Li pleaded not guilty to prescription sale. His lawyer, Aaron M. Wallenstein, said the doctor denies the allegations.
DEA agents also recently raided the Great Neck office of Dr. Eric Jacobson, another doctor of Laffer’s, according to Newsday. Jacobson told reporters outside his office that he had done nothing wrong, but that he would stop prescribing controlled substances until the investigation was done.
The investigation into Telang started in April, months before the shooting at the Medford Pharmacy. Federal authorities said the case culminated in a traffic stop Dec. 6, when Suffolk County detectives noticed Telang crumpling up a prescription he was purportedly giving to a patient in the vehicle with him.
“I know I’m not supposed to be doing this,” he told officers, according to court papers.
Federal agents with a search warrant raided his office Dec. 7, taking medical files and other documents that showed Telang was doctoring records to make it seem as if the undercover agents had reasons to need prescriptions, according to court papers.
He was indicted on nine counts of controlled substance distribution and other charges.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.