A Baldwin Harbor doctor who authorities said was the first physician to stand trial after a crackdown in New York and Long Island on the illegal prescribing of oxycodone was quickly convicted Thursday in federal court in Central Islip.
Dr. Leonard Stambler, 62, was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and possession of the drug by a jury that deliberated for less than four hours. Stambler faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced.
Testimony in the case had taken nine days over the past three weeks before the jury of eight men and four women rendered its verdict.
Stambler, who took the stand in his own defense, showed no emotion as the verdict was read or when presiding U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco revoked his bail after the verdict. The doctor was led away to jail by marshals pending sentencing.
Stambler's attorney, Gary Schoer, of Syosset, said his client "was disappointed, but planned an appeal."
Allen Bode, a federal prosecutor in the office of Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, declined to comment.
Bode had maintained throughout the trial, as he said during his opening statement, Stambler was "a drug dealer . . . a special type of drug dealer -- a doctor."
Stambler had a very small medical practice and basically was "a lonely guy" who prescribed oxycodone to addicts in order to make friends, Bode said.
For his part on the witness stand Tuesday, Stambler matter-of-factly said he was using his best medical judgment and was unaware that his patients were clinically addicted or selling drugs to others.
The only exception to this Stambler said was when he found out one of his patients had stolen 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.
"I'm not a policeman . . . I'm a doctor. I have a heart . . . I just couldn't do it," Stambler said, in explaining during his testimony why he did not turn the patient in.
Brian Crowell, the head of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in New York, said in a statement after the verdict that "there is not a difference between a street drug dealer or a local doctor illegally prescribing medication for profit. This conviction is yet another example of a rogue medical professional fueling the drug threat in our communities for easy drug money."
Stambler was one of the five doctors arrested by a Long Island DEA task force on oxycodone charges in a heightened federal crackdown since 2011 when David Laffer murdered four people at a Medford pharmacy while stealing painkillers.
Two of the doctors are awaiting trial; one other physician has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to 30 months; and another is awaiting sentencing.