A federal magistrate Monday ordered a Baldwin doctor, who was arrested last week for illegally distributing painkillers such as oxycodone, detained indefinitely unless he can come up with a substantial bail package.
The magistrate, A. Kathleen Tomlinson, said she reached her decision in the case of Dr. William Conway giving him some chance of release -- after being presented with a picture "of two different lives," by a defense attorney on one hand, and a federal prosecutor on the other.
Conway was one of 98 people arrested last week in a joint federal-local crackdown on trafficking in painkillers. In arguing that Conway be held without a chance for bail, federal prosecutor Sean Flynn said the doctor had already confessed to the crime to agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
Flynn told Tomlinson Conway had "paid" one of his volunteer assistants with prescriptions for oxycodone although she had been an addict for nine years, and was taped by an undercover federal informant discussing altering his office records when he discovered he was being investigated for illegal drug distribution.
In court Monday and in court papers, Flynn also said that Conway was responsible for the overdose death of two of his patients.
But Conway's attorney, Richard Langone, of Garden City has denied that his client was responsible for the deaths of the patients -- Christopher Basmas, of Hicksville, and Giovanni Manzella, of Long Beach.
Langone argued that his client was a compassionate, caring physician who did not intend to commit any crimes.
"I'm not saying the medical practices of the doctor were pristine," Langone said, adding his client "did not even have a computer . . . I'm talking about intent."
To vouch for Conway, Langone gave Tomlinson emails from supportive patients, and about a dozen patients showed up in the courtroom to back Conway.
One of the patients, Donald Sadowy, a retired New York City bomb squad detective, said he was seriously injured in the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers on 9/11.
Because of his injuries, one doctor gave him painkillers, but it was Conway who stopped him from using the narcotics and helped him physically recover, Sadowy said.
"He was very kind, very caring," Sadowy said. "Maybe he made a mistake in judgment . . . I don't see him doing any crime."