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Cardiologist sentenced to 5 years in plot to attack rival

Anthony Moschetto, a Sands Point cardiologist who pleaded

Anthony Moschetto, a Sands Point cardiologist who pleaded guilty to arson, drug and weapons offenses in a case that followed his arrest in an alleged murder-for-hire plot against a rival doctor, is sentenced at the Nassau County Courthouse on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Sands Point heart doctor behind a “sinister” plot to put a rival physician out of business is a “cold, calculating criminal” undeserving of mercy, a prosecutor said Tuesday before a judge sentenced the cardiologist to 5 years in prison.

Authorities said the 2015 arrest of Anthony Moschetto, 56, followed pill and gun buys by undercover police that exposed his scheme to burn down another doctor’s business and have him beaten into a coma or murdered.

Moschetto — in whose home investigators said they found a hidden arsenal of illegal weapons behind a moving bookshelf — pleaded guilty last year to arson, weapon, drug and conspiracy charges.

“This defendant is undeserving of this court’s compassion,” Nassau prosecutor Anne Donnelly said while asking for a 12-year prison sentence.

She said Moschetto told a probation officer after his plea he was “merely a bystander,” showing he “has not accepted responsibility” for crimes she dubbed “sinister, thought-out, intentional acts.”

But defense attorney Kevin Keating told Nassau Supervising Judge Christopher Quinn his client had admitted wrongdoing, and the prosecution’s case “isn’t quite what it appears.”

“This is as heavy a hit as a man can take, a man in his position,” Keating said of 5 years behind bars.

Moschetto reaffirmed his October guilty plea as Quinn questioned him. The plea didn’t include any charges connected to the alleged slaying plot in what was a 77-count indictment.

Authorities said investigators found out, as their probe developed, that Moschetto was the supplier of the guns and pill prescriptions they were buying, and he was trying to arrange for a fire at the Great Neck office of Dr. Martin Handler, his former employer of 20 years.

“Mr. Moschetto had opened his own cardiology office and he wanted to get more patients. And he felt the best way to do that was get rid of the competition,” Donnelly said later Tuesday.

To do that, Moschetto arranged the arson and also paid an undercover officer and gave him details about where to find Handler to carry out an attack, according to prosecutors. Donnelly said Moschetto told the officer if Handler came out of the coma and still was a problem, “then you can kill him.”

The February 2015 arson did $65,000 in damage. Authorities said Moschetto funded it and the attack he arranged on Handler — which wasn’t carried out — with prescription pads, cash and proceeds of illegal weapons sales.

Handler testified last year during a related trial that Moschetto worked for him until late 2014, and testimony suggested money fueled their professional dispute. That trial ended in the acquittal of the accused arsonist after jurors discounted testimony from two witnesses who struck prosecution cooperation deals.

Quinn said at the time of Moschetto’s plea he planned to give him a 5-year prison sentence in part based on that acquittal.

Moschetto’s medical license will be suspended, but Keating said he’s aiming to get it back, and added: “This marks the end of a very sad and unfortunate chapter in the life of an otherwise decent man who remains beloved by hundreds of patients, and friends and family. And we have confidence that one day he’ll be back on his feet again.”

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