A doctor who pleaded guilty to illegally prescribing oxycodone to patients was sentenced to 15 months in prison Friday.
Mitchel Fagin, 65, of Smithtown, who had a history of drug abuse, was also sentenced to 3 years’ supervised release by U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert in Central Islip.
The federal probation department had recommended that Fagin be sentenced to 30 months in prison, but Seybert said she was balancing the serious nature of his crime with his deteriorating medical condition. Fagin has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and often has to use a wheelchair, as he did in court Friday.
Before he was sentenced Fagin said: “I tried to be the best doctor I could . . . I’m sorry this had to happen.”
Fagin’s attorney, Anthony Colleluori of Mineola, argued that his client should not receive any jail time because of his declining health and because he attempted to treat patients who he thought needed strong pain medication or whom he was trying to wean off heroin.
Eastern District prosecutor Lara Treinis Gatz scoffed at the claim, saying that if the case had gone to trial the government would prove that Fagin traded drugs for sexual favors from patients and knowingly prescribed drugs to addicts.
“I know your client is in pain . . . he has a serious disease,” Judge Seybert told the defense attorney. “[But] he committed some awful crimes.”
Fagin pleaded guilty last December to six counts of illegally distributing oxycodone.
The current case was not the first time Fagin has had difficulty with drugs, Treinis Gatz wrote in court papers.
Fagin’s license was suspended in 1983 for two years after several hospitals “discovered that Fagin had diverted and self-administered opioid medication that was intended for patients,” Treinis Gatz had said in court documents. “Moreover, staff at Stony Brook University Hospital also determined that Fagin was self-administering and abusing pain medication.”
Also, Treinis Gatz said, in 1993 Fagin temporarily suspended his medical license and began a narcotics treatment program after investigators found he had become addicted to Vicodin and used prescriptions he wrote for patients to get the drug.
In addition, the prosecutor wrote, health officials discovered Fagin had improperly prescribed narcotics to patients in 2004, 2011 and 2012.
After the sentencing Colleluori said: “It’s a sad day for the doctor and his patients.” He said he appreciated the lesser sentence.
Treinis Gatz declined to comment.