A doctor from New Hyde Park was arrested Thursday on charges he sold prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances to a select group of patients in exchange for cash, law enforcement officials said.
Dr. Gerald Surya, an internist and senior aviation medical examiner with offices at Kennedy Airport and in Valley Stream, faces 26 counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance after a long-term probe by several drug investigative teams, including the Special Narcotics Prosecutor's Prescription Drug Investigation Unit and the DEA New York Division's Tactical Diversion Squad.
Surya, who has been licensed to practice medicine in New York for 19 years, allegedly wrote prescriptions in the names of individuals with no legitimate medical need for the controlled substances, prosecutors said. In some cases, the individuals named on the prescriptions were not present at the time the prescription was written, officials said.See alsoWatch the video reportDataNarcotic prescriptions on LIMore storiesMore coverage: New York's fight against painkiller abuse
Surya allegedly sold multiple prescriptions written in different names during a single office visit with a single patient, investigators said. Some patients who bought illegal prescriptions from Surya supplied him with the names of friends and relatives to use on the prescription forms, they said.
"Physicians who abuse their privilege to write prescriptions and funnel many thousands of potentially dangerous pills onto the black market deserve to be prosecuted as the drug dealers they are," said Bridget G. Brennan, New York City's special narcotics prosecutor.
In 2012 investigators began a review of Surya's practice of writing a suspiciously high number of prescriptions for controlled substances to a select number of patients, officials said.
They found that during a two-year span, until July 2014, he wrote 1,300 prescriptions, mostly for oxycodone, to eight "patients," the prosecutor said.
The probe also included recording individuals who were sent to see Surya, Assistant District Attorney Ryan Sakacs said. It revealed "an alarming disregard for patient safety."
Sakacs called Surya's exchange with patients "drug deals," including selling a prescription to an admitted drug addict who told Surya that he resold the pills to other addicts.
As a senior aviation medical examiner, Surya is designated by the Federal Aviation Administration to be able to perform medical examinations on pilots and issue medical certificates, according to The Associated Press. A spokeswoman for the FAA did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Thursday, the AP said.
The AP also reported that none of those who allegedly purchased pills from Surya were airline pilots.
Surya was arrested near his New Hyde Park home at 1599 Highland Ave. Thursday afternoon, prosecutors said.
He was ordered held on $500,000 bail, cash or bond, by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Melissa Jackson. His attorney, Robert Appleton, declined to comment Friday.
According to prosecutors, Surya charged $60 cash for each illegal prescription. However, he raised the price to about $100 per prescription after agents and investigators conducted a court-authorized search of his office at Kennedy in July 2014, prosecutors said.
Sakacs told the court Surya continued to sell prescriptions even after he knew he was being investigated.
Charges in the indictment filed by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor center on 26 illegal prescriptions Surya sold during nine office visits between Nov. 4, 2014, and Aug. 4, 2015, officials said.
Prescription sales took place at his JFK office and at a second medical practice, Sun Medical Care of Nassau, on South Central Avenue in Valley Stream, officials said.
A court-authorized review of Surya's prescribing history from Jan. 1, 2012, to Aug. 17, 2015, shows more than half the prescriptions the doctor wrote for controlled substances during this time frame were for oxycodone, prosecutors said. He also wrote prescriptions for Xanax, Vicodin, Percocet and other medications.
After his arrest Thursday, agents and investigators conducted court-authorized searches of his residence and medical offices and seized medical records, financial documents and computer equipment.
Other units involved in the probe included the NYPD, the state Health Department's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, the state's Division of Financial Services and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.