Federal agents have arrested a Yonkers cardiologist and accused him of illegally distributing the powerful painkiller oxycodone over several years -- even writing prescriptions for controlled substances after his license was suspended this month.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested Rohan Wijetilaka, 64, before joining with FBI agents to raid his 944 N. Broadway office Thursday morning. A probe that involves the Department of Health and Human Services led to the raid, an FBI spokesman said Thursday.
Wijetilaka gave out the drugs to patients in exchange for their permission to fool insurance companies to pay for nonexistent tests, investigators said.
"Several of Wijetilaka's patients reported to the Yonkers Police Department that Wijetilaka sold prescription drugs in exchange for patients allowing Wijetilaka to bill their insurance providers for unnecessary tests," Westchester DEA Task Force Agent Guy Repicky said in a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday.
Wijetilaka, who lives in Manhattan, had a hearing in federal court in White Plains Thursday where he was presented with a charge that could land him in prison for 20 years if convicted. U.S. Magistrate Judge George Yanthis ordered him released on $200,000 bond. Yanthis also ordered him not to practice medicine or write any prescriptions. Wijetilaka still has a New Jersey medical license.
Earlier this month, a hearing committee of the New York State office of Professional Misconduct and Physician Discipline revoked Wijetilaka's license to practice medicine after finding him "guilty of gross negligence; negligence on more than one occasion; incompetence on more than one occasion; performing unwarranted tests/treatment; making a false report and failing to maintain adequate patient record."
Wijetilaka's lawyer, William Wood, did not return calls seeking comment.
Another physician with offices in the same building as Wijetilaka expressed surprise to News12 at the arrest of the cardiologist and the raid by federal agents Thursday morning.
"You expect doctors to do a decent job, not like this," said Dr. Nagai Rajendran, a urologist. "It's kind of shocking, to tell you the truth."
Rajendran described Wijetilaka as "very well-trained" but said he had heard allegations about him.
The revocation of Wijetilaka's license was ordered June 21 and took effect July 3 but was unrelated to the illegal drug-distribution charges, according to state documents.
Still, at least five prescriptions for controlled substances were written using Wijetilaka's state registration number since July 3, Repicky wrote in the complaint.
An informant was able to get two prescriptions for 90 oxycodone pills each for himself and his girlfriend in April even though Wijetilaka had not examined him in a month and his girlfriend in five months, according to the complaint.
The criminal investigation was triggered by complaints to Yonkers police from pharmacists and pharmacy technicians that Wijetilaka was writing an unusually high number of prescriptions for powerful narcotic painkillers including Percocet and oxycodone, Repicky said.
From 2006 to 2012, police received about 30 complaints, the investigator wrote.
That came while state investigators were zeroing in on Wijetilaka's medical license for unacceptable patient care.
Investigators found a pattern of egregious behavior and issued a scathing report in stripping Wijetilaka's license. He received his license in 1993 and his medical degree from a Sri Lankan school in 1973, state records show.
"The Hearing Committee believes that (Wijetilaka's) failure to provide his patients with even some minimal level of medical care and consideration of the outcome of his tests which he administered demonstrates that (his) sole motivation for seeing patients was his own financial benefit and he had no regard for his patients' well-being," said the report signed June 21 by Dr. Michael R. Golding, the chairman of the professional-misconduct board.
The board found he billed for services he didn't provide and didn't provide services to patients that he should have.
Wijetilaka's poor treatment led to one patient's death, investigators said.
"(Wijetilaka's) failure to monitor the patient's abdominal aortic aneurysm placed the patient in grave risk of harm which was realized when the aneurysm ruptured and the patient died," the report said.
Investigators said Wijetilaka took no responsibility for his actions and showed no remorse.