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Nassau judge denies bail for ex-doctor charged with killing patients with lethal drug doses

George Blatti at the Nassau County Courthouse on

George Blatti at the Nassau County Courthouse on Oct. 30, 2019 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Nassau judge denied bail Wednesday for a now-former physician who's facing murder charges in the deaths of five drug-addicted patients after allegedly prescribing them deadly amounts of opioids and other medications.

Prosecutors dubbed George Blatti, 75, a "serial killer" whose prescription pad "was as lethal as any murder weapon" after his March arraignment. Acting State Supreme Court Justice Francis Ricigliano then remanded Blatti to Nassau’s jail without bail.

But Nancy Bartling, the ex-doctor’s new attorney, told Ricigliano at a Wednesday bail hearing that her client "can no longer prescribe medication and is not a danger to the public."

The Garden City defense lawyer also said in court that Blatti, who previously pleaded not guilty, has numerous medical ailments, including prostate cancer, colitis and cataracts and isn’t getting the medical care he needs while incarcerated. Bartling proposed bail of $250,000 or more, along with conditions including home confinement, electronic monitoring and passport surrender.

"This is not a violent murderer with a rap sheet a mile long. This is a man who was a respected physician … and with no criminal record," she said, claiming prosecutors overcharged her client in what she called "a manslaughter case at best."

Bartling said Blatti knew his charges would be upgraded but didn't flee after posting $50,000 bail following his not guilty plea at his initial arraignment in October 2019 on a 54-count indictment. It charged him with selling opioid and amphetamine prescriptions to patients without examining them.

But prosecutors balked Wednesday at the idea of freeing someone who could be sentenced to 125 years to life in prison if convicted of five counts of murder, calling Blatti the only defendant in Nassau County facing such charges.

"There’s a huge risk of flight," prosecutor Melissa Scannell told the judge.

The prosecutor said Blatti had spent about six days at Nassau University Medical Center during his incarceration this year and otherwise had been housed mostly in the medical clinic area of Nassau’s jail.

"Arguably, Judge, he’s in better hands in the jail than he would be if he were home where he would have to drive to the hospital," Scannell added.

Ricigliano said after the arguments that continued remand for Blatti at the jail without bail remains "the appropriate custody status in this case."

Nassau prosecutors have said they believe the case is the first time in New York a doctor is facing second-degree murder charges under the theory of a defendant acting with depraved indifference to human life. Blatti for a time operated his practice from a makeshift office in a former RadioShack in Franklin Square that still had store signage, and later from the parking lot of the Rockville Centre hotel where he was living or outside a nearby Dunkin’ store, according to authorities.

Blatti surrendered his medical license in 2019 after the law enforcement investigation began, according to prosecutors. They’ve alleged he ignored information about overdoses and illicit drug use in his patients’ records, disregarded warnings from pharmacies, insurers and Medicaid about excessive opioid prescriptions and kept prescribing large quantities and toxic combinations of drugs to addicted patients.

Blatti is planning to go to trial in the case, acording to Bartling, who said after court Wednesday that "the facts do not support a murder charge here by any means."

A Nassau district attorney's office spokesman declined to comment.

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