Doc indicted in overdose deaths to undergo psych test

Federal agents raided the office of Dr. William Federal agents raided the office of Dr. William Conway in Baldwin and carried out about a half-dozen boxes of records in February. Conway was arrested in June 2012 along with 97 other people in a massive federal and local investigation of illegal prescription painkillers. He was charged with illegally distributing 780,000 oxycodone pills. (Feb. 29, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim Staubitser

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A Baldwin doctor charged with causing the death of two patients by recklessly prescribing the pain killer oxycodone was ordered by a judge Tuesday in Central Islip to undergo psychiatric testing to assess his mental status.

Dr. William Conway will be evaluated after his defense attorney argued in court papers before U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler that he should be allowed to present evidence at an upcoming trial that his client suffers from "diminished mental capacity."

The defense attorney, Richard Langone, is quoted in court papers as saying that a neuropsychologist he hired to examine Conway found that the brain of the doctor has "organic frontal lobe and right hemisphere abnormalities" that hamper his ability to "plan, organize, self-monitor, conceptualize and reason" and so he couldn't have "knowingly engage[d] in activity that he believed to be criminal."

Federal prosecutors Sean Flynn and Michael Canty contend that Langone is apparently arguing that his client is insane and not fit to stand trial.

But Langone in court papers said he is not arguing that his client is insane, but only wants to introduce evidence at a trial that his client has "diminished mental capacity" and did not have the ability to know that he was dispensing oxycodone "without a legitimate medical purpose."

Langone argued that this was a legitimate defense. But Canty and Flynn said under federal rules it was not.

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Conway was arrested in September on charges of causing the overdose deaths of two patients, Giovanni Manzella, 34, of Long Beach, in April 2011, and Christopher Basmas, 29, of Hicksville, in October 2011.

If convicted, Conway could face up to life in prison.

Although Langone has said patients of Conway's, who believe he is a caring physician, have offered to put up more than $1 million in bail money, Wexler has refused to let him out of jail, saying he is a danger to the community.

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