A psychiatrist who publicly denounced doctors for selling painkillers for money was arrested Tuesday for cashing in on the illegal business, too, federal officials said.
William S. Belfar, of Huntington, charged up to $1,000 for each oxycodone prescription he wrote out to two undercover FBI agents and an FBI informant on three occasions between May 2011 and this past April, according to the FBI and the U.S. attorney in Manhattan.
During one sale, Belfar wrote the prescription even though he said he thought the informant was a "dealer," telling the informant that such a sale was "a very easy way to make money, but it's an easy way for me to go to jail, too," federal authorities said.
In federal court in Manhattan, Belfar, 49, was charged Tuesday with three counts of distributing oxycodone. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Belfar and his family could not be reached Tuesday. The name of his attorney was not immediately available.
This year, according to his website and Twitter account, he has appeared on several news shows to speak on the "big business" of illegal prescriptions. On these shows and on his website, he skewers celebrities' doctors for turning their clients into oxycodone addicts.
Belfar's website, Manhattan Medical and Psychiatric Services, says he is licensed in New York and Massachusetts and was at one time director of forensic psychiatry at the Westchester County jail.
Court papers said the psychiatrist was selling prescriptions in Massachusetts as long ago as 2010. On some occasions, he sold bottles of 120 oxycodone pills for $1,200, an FBI agent said in the federal complaint.
In 2011, after learning that the spouse of one of his oxycodone users was a police officer, Belfar was worried he would be arrested and wanted to take the "business" out of Massachusetts and into his Manhattan office, the complaint said.