A Nassau cardiologist conspired to burn down a rival doctor's practice and have him assaulted or killed in a plot foiled after an undercover officer was hired to carry out the crime, officials said Wednesday.
Dr. Anthony J. Moschetto, 54, of 30 Arden Lane, Sands Point, masterminded the arson and murder-for-hire plot, paying an undercover detective and a confidential informant with prescription pills, guns and money, authorities said.
The scheme grew out of a dispute between Moschetto and his onetime boss over Moschetto prescribing large amounts of oxycodone, sources said. Eventually, Moschetto wanted to take over the rival doctor's practice, officials said.
Moschetto was arrested Tuesday at his home where authorities found nearly 100 weapons, many in a hidden basement room behind a bookshelf that moved aside when a switch was activated, officials said. The weapons included a hand grenade and assault rifles with illegal high-capacity magazines. Sources added there were also other weapons concealed in many rooms in the house.
"Today we charge a doctor, a cardiologist, a man who took an oath to save lives, with a complex scheme aimed at ending the life of another doctor," acting District Attorney Madeline Singas told reporters at a news conference.
The target of the killing, which was to be carried out in May, was identified by officials only as a cardiologist with an office on Northern Boulevard in Great Neck who had employed Moschetto, "but whose relationship with Dr. Moschetto had soured due to a professional dispute," the district attorney's news release said.
Authorities said Moschetto left the practice around November and opened his own practice, also on Northern Boulevard in Great Neck. The purported victim was not at his medical office Wednesday and a person who answered the door bell at his home had no comment.
Moschetto faces a maximum sentence of 81/3 to 25 years in prison on the top charge, prosecutors said. The charges include conspiracy, criminal sale of a controlled substance, arson, burglary, weapons possession, criminal sale of a firearm, and criminal solicitation.
At arraignment Wednesday in First District Court in Hempstead, Moschetto pleaded not guilty, and was released on $2 million bond secured by real estate. In asking for $500,000 bond, his attorney, Randy Zelin, said Moschetto was "a well-respected cardiologist." He added: "My client has a wealth of roots in the community and has absolutely no reason to leave his family, to leave his children, and to leave what he has built in this community."
Assistant District Attorney Anne Donnelly said Moschetto "was willing to pay $5,000 to have beaten and put in the hospital for a few months." She added: "And then he said he would pay $20,000 to have him killed."
Singas said "He went back and forth to either assault or kill his fellow cardiologist."
Donnelly said Moschetto "wanted to put him out of business so he could get the business."
As part of the plot, Moschetto, at one point, even suggested to an undercover Nassau detective that the rival's wife also be assaulted, officials said. Wednesday, in court, two orders of protection were issued for the intended victim and his wife.
Co-defendants James Chmela, 43, of Selden, and James Kalamaras, 41, Wednesday entered not guilty pleas. Kalamaras was held on $500,000 bond or $300,000 cash bail. Chmela was held on $250,000 bond and $150,000 cash bail.
Donnelly said Kalamaras is alleged to have set the other doctor's practice on fire on Feb. 22. No one was injured in the fire, which caused minimal damage, she said.
Kalamaras, listed as living in Suffolk County, faces a maximum of life in prison. He was charged with arson and burglary.
Chmela allegedly drove the getaway vehicle from the arson, Donnelly said. He faces a maximum sentence of 31/2 to 15 years in prison, prosecutors said, and faces charges of arson, burglary, weapons and firearms charges.
The three men were arrested Tuesday after a joint investigation by the District Attorney's office, Nassau police and the Long Island Tactical Diversion unit of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
Donnelly said the case started in December when DEA agents became suspicious after learning that Moschetto was writing a large volume of prescriptions for oxycodone. Initially, an unnamed seller sold oxycodone to the undercover officer, officials said, as well as heroin and two loaded assault weapons. The seller also asked if the detective could provide him with dynamite to blow up a building.
As the investigation continued, detectives and federal agents uncovered that Moschetto was the source of the assault weapons and prescriptions for oxycodone, officials said, which was payment for the alleged arson at the rival cardiologist's office. Investigators then determined Moschetto was also willing to pay for the possible killing of the rival, officials said. Eventually, the seller told the undercover he no longer needed the dynamite because an associate of his had torched the rival's office building, officials said.