Authorities detail doctors' actions in drug bust
Dr. Eric Jacobson surrendered his authority to write prescriptions for controlled substances when federal agents raided his office last December, but he kept his illegal painkiller business going, authorities charged Wednesday.
Within weeks, through a Craigslist ad, Jacobson hired a physician who had an active Drug Enforcement Administration registration number to work at his Great Neck office for $25,000 a month plus expenses, according to documents from federal agents and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
But there was a problem. The new doctor sized up 10 percent of the patients as drug dealers. Another 25 percent did not have proper doctor referrals, and he figured many "were doctor shoppers who were only interested in obtaining as much oxycodone as possible to sell, to take or both," the documents said.
The new doctor began to turn away such patients -- including one group that was coming to the Great Neck office from Ocean County, N.J., nearly 100 miles away. Jacobson objected, the agents said. In one instance, after hearing the hired doctor's suspicion about a patient, Jacobson mocked his employee and said, "You should be a detective and not a doctor," according to the documents.
The doctor, still employed at the practice, was not identified in the documents.
At Jacobson's arraignment on charges of conspiring to illegally distribute oxycodone, his attorney, John Martin of Great Neck, argued that his client had not committed any crime but merely had a medical disagreement with the other doctor.
Jacobson cut back the schedule of the physician he hired to four days, then three. He had also hired a nurse practitioner last January with the legal authority to write prescriptions for controlled substances, and he made sure the two employees never worked the same days, authorities said.
The nurse practitioner saw some of the patients the hired doctor had discharged "and began to prescribe oxycodone to those patients at [Jacobson's] direction," federal prosecutors said in court documents.
The doctor, who was interviewed by federal agents, said he believed Jacobson refused to turn away patients "because of greed," the papers said.
At its peak, Jacobson was seeing 100 patients a day at the Great Neck office alone and collecting $12,000 to $20,000 daily in cash. When he had to hire outside help, he increased his rates for pain-management patients to $450 for an initial visit, $250 for each monthly follow-up visit and $500 to replace a missing prescription, the papers said.
Two other Long Island medical professionals were arrested in the past week.
Dr. William J. Conway, 68, of Baldwin, allegedly wrote 5,554 prescriptions for oxycodone between January 2009 and November 2011, an average of more than five a day, seven days a week, for almost three years -- often performing little or no medical evaluation, federal documents said.
Some patients often picked up a signed prescription from Conway's medical assistant without seeing the doctor at all, authorities charged. The assistant had a prescription pad that was pre-signed by Conway.
The assistant "confirmed that he has been 'warned' by local pharmacies that Conway was writing too many prescriptions for pain medication," and it had no effect on Conway's sale of prescriptions, the federal prosecutor charged.
Rools Deslouches, a nurse practitioner in Brentwood, often prescribed oxycodone and other narcotics to "patients" after "performing little or no medical evaluation," prosecutors said. Deslouches often charged $150 to $200 -- cash only -- for visits lasting at most five minutes.
The exam often consisted of no more than taking a patient's blood pressure and pulse, if that, court documents said.
Deslouches wrote and distributed about 422,107 oxycodone pills between August 2009 and October 2011, authorities charged.
With Robert E. Kessler