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Jury hears two versions of one doctor in drug trial

Dr. Leonard Stambler leaves federal court in Central

Dr. Leonard Stambler leaves federal court in Central Islip. (Dec. 5, 2011) Credit: Ed Betz

A federal prosecutor and a defense attorney Wednesday painted starkly different portraits of a Baldwin Harbor physician accused of illegally prescribing the painkiller oxycodone.

"Leonard Stambler was a drug dealer; he may have had a medical degree, but he wasn't acting like a doctor," said Eastern District prosecutor Allen Bode, in summing up the government's case in federal court in Central Islip.

To Stambler's attorney, Gary Schoer, of Syosset, his client was "a caring physician who used his best medical judgment."

Stambler, 62, has been on trial for more than two weeks on charges of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and illegal possession of the drug. Schoer acknowledged his client was "not a normal doctor," since he had no office, made house calls, only accepted cash, and mainly prescribed oxycodone.

At times, "maybe he acted foolishly" but "he was always making decisions based on legitimate medical judgment," Schoer said. He described the government witnesses against Stambler as "liars, dealers, thieves."

Bode said "the government didn't choose these witnesses, the defendant chose these witnesses . . . they are people he's giving massive doses of oxycodone to."

Two of the witnesses, Christopher Adams and his girlfriend, Nancy Cook, obtained prescriptions for more than 7,500 oxycodone tablets from June to November of 2011, when Adams was arrested by members of a DEA task force, Bode said.

This occurred even after Stambler discovered that in addition to his prescriptions for oxycodone, Adams had stolen one of the doctor's prescription blanks and used it to forge a script for the painkiller, Bode said. Adams committed a felony and Stambler had a legal obligation as a doctor to report it, Bode said.

In questioning Wednesday by Schoer, Stambler said Adams was constantly in pain and he and Cook had a newborn baby.

"I'm not a policeman. . . . I'm a doctor. I have a heart . . . I just couldn't do it," Stambler said as to why he didn't turn Adams in.

Bode said Stambler kept prescribing oxycodone for Adams although he knew Adams had been arrested for crashing a car into a restaurant while under the influence of drugs.

Stambler also was with Cook when she sold another patient oxycodone pills, Bode said.

The jury deliberations are expected to begin Friday. If convicted, Stambler faces up to 20 years in prison.

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