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Rakesh Punn, Bethpage pediatrician, admits drugging, sexually abusing patient, DA says

Bethpage doctor Rakesh Punn is brought into Nassau

Bethpage doctor Rakesh Punn is brought into Nassau County Court in Mineola in this file photo from Friday, July 15, 2011 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A former Bethpage pediatrician pleaded guilty Friday to drugging a girl in his office, then sexually abusing her, part of a long investigation that also led to a federal conviction on sexual exploitation, the Nassau district attorney's office said.

Rakesh Punn, 56, faces 15 years in prison on two counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance and first-degree sexual abuse at his Dec. 5 sentencing, prosecutors said. He will have to register as a sex offender after his prison term and forfeit $2,113,994, authorities said.

In his plea in Nassau County Court, he admitted to abusing a patient, 17, in 2007. He also tricked patients into filling prescriptions for the drug used to incapacitate victims, telling them to bring back the drug so he could check it or make a compound. He'd then keep it, authorities said.

One of Punn's attorneys declined to comment Friday.

Arrested in 2010, he was charged with abusing at least seven female patients, ages 11 to 21, prosecutors said.

As early as 2007, he drugged or blindfolded them, then photographed and videotaped his abuse of them, authorities said. They said he also had some victims disrobe in the guise of medical examinations, and hidden cameras recorded them.

Parents trusted him so much that they thought nothing of remaining outside during the exams, authorities said.

"For these young girls, a routine trip to the doctor's office ended in a nightmare that they will likely carry with them for the rest of their lives," District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement. "Thankfully, he will soon face the consequences of his many crimes."

Punn also pleaded guilty in November 2012 to welfare fraud, grand larceny and other felonies for helping family, friends and patients file false applications to get Medicaid and state child health care aid, Rice said.

On those charges, he faces 1 to 3 years at his Dec. 5 sentencing.

In April, he pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of sexual exploitation of a child, who was 11. He agreed to reimburse her and five other young female victims. He has not been sentenced in the federal case but faces a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Punn is no longer registered as a doctor.

Correction: Rakesh Punn, who pleaded guilty Friday to sexually abusing a girl in his medical office, is a former Bethpage pediatrician. Due to an editing error, his status as a physician was incorrect in a story Saturday.

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