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Doc gets 30 months for illegal oxycodone distribution

Frank Telang leaves court after being sentenced to

Frank Telang leaves court after being sentenced to 30 months in prison for illegal sale of prescription pain killers in Central Islip. (May 9, 2013) Credit: Ed Betz

A Port Jefferson Station physician was sentenced to 30 months in prison Thursday for illegally distributing the painkiller oxycodone -- at one time from a parking lot along the Long Island Expressway -- and failing to pay income tax on the $25,000 he earned from the sales, according to officials.

Federal sentencing guidelines provided for Frank Telang, 58, to be sentenced to up to 57 months.

But U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco at the federal court in Central Islip said he was giving Telang the lesser sentence by balancing "the extreme nature of the offense" with "a lot of good for society" the doctor has done as a medical researcher.

While Eastern District federal prosecutors do not generally make sentencing recommendations for defendants, Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen Bode told Bianco before the sentencing that Telang seems "genuinely remorseful . . . [and] genuinely accepts his guilt."

Telang has co-authored more than 40 scientific articles, many on the effects of cocaine on the brain.

Bianco also said that in deciding on the sentence he calculated the effect a lengthier term would have on Telang's three young children.

Before he was sentenced, Telang said that he had "a nine-hours-a-week" private medical practice to supplement income earned as a researcher. Telang admitted he had been inappropriately prescribing oxycodone "instead of drawing lines in pain management."

"I want to apologize to the court and to society," Telang said. "I let my colleagues down at the lab."

Before his arrest in December of 2011, Telang had worked since 2003 as a researcher for the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism from a lab at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton. From 1997 to 2003, Telang worked directly for BNL, officials have said.

Telang's arrest was part of an intensive crackdown by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Suffolk police on the diversion of oxycodone on Long Island after the 2011 murders by David Laffer of four people in a Medford pharmacy during a robbery involving painkiller drugs.

In asking for a lesser sentence, Telang's lawyer, Bruce Maffeo, noted that his client is also likely to lose his New York State medical license and would have a difficult time regaining it.

It is not the first time that Telang has had trouble with his medical license.

When he was practicing in New Jersey in 1996, Telang's license was suspended for two years because he had sexually abused a female patient, according to the records of the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners.

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