Federal law enforcement authorities announced Monday they are moving to seize money, real estate and cars, including a Bentley, from a former Rocky Point-based chiropractor whose clinic, they said, fraudulently prescribed hundreds of thousands of oxycodone pills to patients.
Prosecutors filed a lawsuit against Roger Kaplan and Choice Medical Services PC, formerly known as Choice Spine Joint and Neurology, in federal court in Central Islip before U.S. District Court Judge Leonard D. Wexler.
The lawsuit seeks the forfeiture of “13 pieces of real property located in New York and Florida, approximately $400,000 held in bank accounts, as well as a Bentley and other vehicles,” according to a news release.
The assets, officials said in a news release, are connected to the “illegal distribution” of the highly addictive opioids oxycodone and hydrocodone by a firm they labeled a “pill mill.”
But Kaplan vigorously defended himself in a phone interview Monday, saying he has no link to Choice Medical Services beyond leasing space to its doctors at 799 Route 25A in Rocky Point.
He also said that he cannot prescribe drugs.
“I don’t know what this has to do with me,” Kaplan said, adding that federal officials arrived at his home Monday and served him with papers and that he had no idea the lawsuit was coming. “I’m a chiropractor and I rent out space in a professional building. . . I have no idea how I ever got involved.”
State Education Department records show Kaplan’s license to practice as “inactive.” His attorney, whom he said was William Keahon of Islandia, could not be reached for comment.
But federal authorities said Kaplan was an integral part of the scheme. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on whether criminal charges will be filed against Kaplan.
“We are all too familiar with the devastating harm caused to individuals, and our community as a whole, by the abuse of prescription painkillers,” said U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers, of the Eastern District of New York. “Today’s filing serves as a warning to those who prey on, and profit from, people who have developed addictions to opioids.”
The allegations comes as authorities struggle to combat crime fueled by skyrocketing opioid addiction. Nearly five years ago, painkiller addict David Laffer of Medford began serving a sentence of four consecutive life terms after being convicted of first-degree murder in the June 2011 killings of four people at Haven Drugs in Medford.
Laffer shot a pharmacist, drugstore employee and two customers after he robbed it of 10,000 pills of oxycodone and other drugs for his wife, Melinda Brady.
The probe was conducted by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s Long Island Tactical Diversion Squad, consisting of the DEA, Nassau, Rockville, Centre, Port Washington, and Suffolk police departments.
A three-page notice was taped to the clinic’s door on Monday night from the U.S. Attorney’s office, saying the building was subject to forfeiture because it was “used or intended to be used to facilitate a violation of the Controlled Substances Act.”
The suit culminates 18 months of investigation covering transactions between 2006 and 2015 during which, Choice doctors prescribed the drugs to patients “despite the absence of any legitimate medical need.”
Investigators said the firm’s sleep specialist distributed nearly half a million 30mg oxycodone pills during a 17-month period and, on a single day, “wrote prescriptions for approximately 4,634 dosage units of opioids for the 49 patients he claimed to have seen that day.”
State officials revoked the medical license of one Choice doctor, and another, a sleep specialist, pled guilty in federal court in Central Islip to one count of distribution of a controlled substance in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.
“Roger Kaplan’s alleged offenses are an example of how an unscrupulous medical professional can take advantage of vulnerable patients and reap millions of dollars through the illegal prescription of opioids,” said James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
— With David M. Schwartz