Nyack psychiatrist made millions selling illegal drug prescriptions, AG says

Dr. David Brizer, 60, of Manhattan, left, is Dr. David Brizer, 60, of Manhattan, left, is accused of selling painkiller prescriptions from his offices in Nyack and Manhattan. Frank Walker, 52, of Westtown, is charged with buying oxycodone illegally from Brizer with intent to resell it. (Feb. 11, 2013) Photo Credit: New York State Attorney General's Office

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A psychiatrist with offices in Rockland County and Manhattan is facing charges of selling prescriptions for pain medicine to drug dealers, then dodging taxes by underreporting his income by hundreds of thousands of dollars, officials said Monday.

Dr. David Brizer, 60, of Manhattan, was arraigned on a 55-count indictment Monday in Rockland County Court, according to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office led the investigation against the doctor.

Brizer pleaded not guilty before Judge William K. Nelson to charges of tax fraud, criminal sale and possession of prescription drugs and other felony counts.

Brizer failed to report at least $240,000 on his 2010 state income tax returns and at least $250,000 on his 2011 returns, much of it proceeds from sales of prescriptions, according to Schneiderman. In addition to allegedly writing falsified prescriptions for fake patients, Brizer is charged with possession of drugs, including the amphetamine methylphenidate, which he obtained by writing prescriptions in the names of people who didn't know he was doing so, Schneiderman said.

He faces up to seven years in state prison if convicted, according to Schneiderman.

"Instead of saving lives, Dr. Brizer used his position to supply drug dealers and feed a prescription drug epidemic that is devastating families across our state," Schneiderman said in a statement. "The message is clear -- whether you are a doctor or a criminal on the street, my office will prosecute those profiting off the cycle of abuse."

From February 2010 to August 2012, Brizer sold prescriptions for oxycodone -- often found under the brand name OxyContin -- and other painkillers, the indictment charges. He charged his customers up to $300 for each prescription and racked up several million dollars in illegal sales, first out of his 48 Burd St. office in Nyack and more recently at his 244 W. 54th St. office in midtown Manhattan, Schneiderman said.

Brizer allegedly sold prescriptions to reputed drug dealers including Franklin Walker, 52, of Westtown in Orange County, during a one-year period that ended in July 2012, Schneiderman said. Brizer's prescriptions allowed Walker to obtain up to 240 oxycodone pills at a time, officials said.

Walker was arrested in December on charges of grand larceny and drug possession after he got Medicaid to pay thousands of dollars to pharmacies for drugs he illegally obtained and resold, officials said. He faces nine years in prison if convicted.

In August, investigators from three state agencies, including Schneiderman's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, searched Brizer's Manhattan apartment under a warrant and also seized documents at Brizer's former residence in Fort Lee, N.J.

His license to practice medicine was suspended in September, according to a state database. Brizer is the author of several books, including "Quitting Smoking For Dummies," according to a website for his medical practice.

Brizer's next court date is March 1. His attorney, Michael F. Bachner of New York City, said Brizer was released Monday after posting bail of $5,000, before declining further comment.

No further court information for Walker was immediately available, and an attorney for him could not immediately be reached.

The Orange County and Rockland County district attorneys' offices and Clarkstown town police were among the agencies assisting in the investigation.

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