Last week federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local police officers swept through Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, arresting 98 offenders of illegal distribution of prescription painkillers. The first-of-its-kind operation focused on “doctor shoppers,” who obtain large quantities of painkillers from multiple doctors for resale and personal use.
Three Long Island medical professionals, including two doctors and a nurse practitioner were arrested, who are charged with dispensing more than 3 million pills over the course of two years. One of these doctors, Dr. Eric Jacobson, had been under investigation for providing painkillers to David Laffer, who killed four people in a botched robbery attempt at a pharmacy in Medford.
Jacobson surrendered his authority to write prescriptions for controlled substances in December, but continued his illegal pain pill business going by hiring a physician with an active registration at the Drug Enforcement Administration to work at his Great Neck office. According to U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, Jacobson pain the physician $25,000 a month to work for his illegal business. However, the physician, who is not identified began to object to Jacobson’s business practices when he recognized approximately 10 percent of Jacobson’s patients as drug dealers and another 25 percent as “doctor shoppers.”
When the physician confront Jacobson about his suspicions, Jacobson allegedly replied, “You should be a detective and not a doctor.” At the peak of his illegal business, Jacobson was seeing 100 patients a day, and accepting between $12,000 and $20,000 in cash daily.
Dr. William J. Conway, 68, of Baldwin was also arrested in the sweep. He is accused of writing 5,554 prescriptions for oxycodone, an average of five a day for nearly three years from January 2009 to November 2011. Authorities claim that Conway’s assistant had a prescription pad that the doctor had signed without even meeting with many of the patients. Conway has been linked to the deaths of a 34-year-old man from Long Beach and a 29-year-old man from Hicksville, who both overdosed. A letter from the U.S. attorney’s office described Conway’s crimes as a “systematic and callous dispensing of oxycodone,” and the cause of the two men’s deaths.
The third medical professional charged, Rools Deslouches, a nurse practitioner from Brentwood, is accused of charged $150 to $200, cash only, for meetings lasting less than five minutes during which the performed examination consisted of little more than taking the patient’s blood pressure and pulse. According to the charges, Deslouches distributed 422,107 oxycodone pills just over two years, from August 2009 to October 2010.
All three medical professionals are being held without bail as a danger to the community. An additional 95 people were arraigned on Wednesday.
U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch issued a statement describing the prescription drug problem as a “new face and a new challenge, as it involves new actors and permeates all of our communities.” According to a U.N. report issued in January, Americans consume more narcotic medications than people in any other nation in the world. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health claims that one in 20 Americans over the age of 12 have used pain killers non-medically. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention claims that 5,550 start prescription painkiller abuse every day in this country, and they estimate that 40 people die daily, nationwide, due to prescription painkiller overdoses. The UN's International Narcotics Control Board estimates that 75 tons of oxycodone is produced globally each year, and 80 percent of that is consumed within the United States.
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