A Baldwin Harbor doctor was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for illegally prescribing oxycodone by a judge who excoriated him for lying on the witness stand and showing no remorse.
The sentence imposed on Leonard Stambler, 63, by U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco was a month less than the maximum suggested in sentencing guidelines, which called for between 97 and 121 months in prison, or 10 years and 1 month. Authorities said Stambler was the first physician to stand trial after a crackdown in New York and Long Island on the illegal prescribing of painkillers.
Stambler was arrested in November 2011. A federal DEA task force that included Nassau and New York State Police and IRS agents made the arrest as part of a crackdown on the illegal sale of oxycodone. The crackdown escalated after David Laffer shot four people to death at a Medford pharmacy while stealing prescription drugs in June 2011.
Bianco acknowledged that Stambler had done much good with many patients but said the doctor lied during his trial in Central Islip federal court when he testified that he acted as a compassionate physician in dealing with some patients.
Bianco said Stambler wanted to be a friend to those patients but was "essentially a drug dealer," and "the message needs to be sent to other doctors" not to duplicate the conduct.
Stambler increased patients' supply of drugs even after he knew they were selling them and after a patient had gotten into a car accident while high, Bianco said.
Before the sentencing, Stambler had asked for leniency, saying he was in ill health, had done much good as a physician and wanted to be able to care for his two sons.
"I'm very sorry for what I did. . . . I thought I was helping the patients. I got too personally involved," he said.
His attorney, Gary Schoer, said his client will appeal. Federal prosecutor Allen Bode declined to comment afterward.
Stambler was found guilty in October of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and possession of the drug.
Stambler testified in his own defense, saying he used his best medical judgment and was unaware that his patients were clinically addicted or selling drugs to others. The only exception, he said, was when he found out a patient stole one of his prescription blanks and forged a script for oxycodone.
The patient and his girlfriend, another patient, had just had a baby and begged him not to report the crime to authorities, Stambler said.