A Patchogue nurse practitioner was convicted Monday of selling oxycodone for cash and operating one of Suffolk's largest pill mills, authorities said.
The case against Ingrid Gordon-Patterson, 49, was an outgrowth of a 2012 special grand jury investigation into Suffolk's epidemic of painkiller abuse, a probe launched after addict David Laffer killed four people while stealing oxycodone at a Medford pharmacy.
After a seven-week trial, a Riverhead jury found Gordon-Patterson guilty on all five charges: two counts of conspiracy, two counts of criminal sale of a prescription and fourth-degree weapons possession.
Between June 11, 2011, and June 6, 2012, she prescribed more than 413,000 oxycodone pills from her Deer Park office, charged an average of $250 per illegal prescription and saw about 1,200 "fake patients" a month, said Dina Cangero, who prosecuted the case along with Kristin Barnes.
"For her, this was a million-dollar-plus operation," Cangero said. "If you look at the number of pills and what their street value was . . . you're looking at an over $6 million drug operation" in that period.
Gordon-Patterson's attorney, Lawrence Etah of Hempstead, said an appeal is planned and declined to comment further.
She could face up to 25 years when she is sentenced July 29.
Her large, monthly clientele was a red flag -- she had been a nurse practitioner only two years, Cangero said. An acute-care hospital doctor testified that he saw 1,200 patients a year, writing about 12 prescriptions a year for 30-milligram oxycodone pills. Buyers and users could not get in to her office without being cleared in some way, and while no undercover buyer was able to get through, at least one fake patient sold pills to law enforcement, Cangero said.
The special grand jury found Suffolk County had almost twice the state average in cash prescriptions for oxycodone.
Cangero said authorities found out about the nurse practictioner from a man who had been arrested on an unrelated charge and was addicted to oxycodone.
In less than a year, she wrote 4,011 prescriptions for 30-milligram oxycodone, the prosecutor said, making up 88 percent of all her prescriptions. "That is insane," Cangero said. "She put out on the street 413,519 oxycodone tablets at a time when that drug was the mostly highly dangerous, highly addictive and the most commonly diverted drug in Suffolk County and elsewhere."
After Laffer's fatal shootings, many healthcare providers were careful in issuing oxycodone prescriptions because painkiller abuse was under the microscope, authorities said.
"Instead of being extremely cautious about putting this drug on the street, she's ramping it up," Cangero said. "Her prescribing patterns continued to rise. She opened her own practice and the numbers skyrocketed."