In oxycodone case, Baldwin Harbor doctor says he acted professionally
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A Baldwin Harbor doctor, accused of illegally prescribing oxycodone, Tuesday defended his conduct as professional, but said if he did anything improper, he did so out of compassion.
Dr. Leonard Stambler, testifying in his own defense in federal court in Central Islip, admitted on one occasion he did not report to authorities that a longtime patient, Christopher Adams, had stolen a prescription blank from him and forged an oxycodone script.
But Stambler, under questioning by his defense attorney, Gary Schoer of Syosset, said Adams and his girlfriend, Nancy Cook, pleaded with him not to call the authorities.
"He was begging me. She was begging me. They just had a baby," Stambler said. "I didn't have the heart to do it."
Adams and Cook had testified as government witnesses that Stambler was aware of their addiction and that they might be selling pills and or using pills prescribed for each other.
As to Cook's previous testimony that Stambler had advised him that he could make more money by selling oxycodone at dance raves, the doctor denied saying that, adding he was not even aware of what a rave was at the time.
Stambler said that he was careful not to prescribe oxycodone pills to people who he thought were doctor shopping, selling the drug or addicted to the drug.
Stambler said that he had a few patients a week, mostly on Medicare or in treatment for severe pain, but he carefully screened them. Between 1996 and 2008 he had dropped 41 patients who he felt did not need oxycodone, Stambler said. When he was arrested in November 2011, Stambler said he had only $3,000 in the bank.
His medical practice was so small, Stambler said, that at one point he tried to get a job as a pharmacist. In addition to his medical degree, Stambler said he also had a pharmacist's degree.
Stambler is charged with conspiracy to sell oxycodone and illegal possession of the drug.
Under aggressive cross-examination by Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen Bode, Stambler acknowledged that he had recorded the forged prescription in Adams' medical records as if it were a legitimate one he had written. Stambler also said he was unaware, until his arrest, that Adams had forged two more prescriptions for oxycodone on his blank forms.
Stambler also said that he had continued prescribing oxycodone for Adams even after Adams was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs after crashing a car into the front of a restaurant. Stambler said he thought oxycodone did not play a role in that case.
Stambler's trial before U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco is expected to continue Wednesday. If convicted, Stambler faces up to 20 years in prison.