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Stan Li, doctor who sold painkillers to David Laffer, sentenced in deaths of two patients

Dr. Stan Li, 60, enters a court room

Dr. Stan Li, 60, enters a court room Friday, Dec. 19, 2014, in Manhattan as awaits his sentencing of possibly more than 10 years in prison on his July 18 conviction for manslaughter and reckless endangerment. He recklessly doled out painkillers to Medford pharmacy killer David Laffer and dozens of others. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Dr. Stan Xuhui Li was sentenced Friday to 10 2/3 to 20 years in prison for recklessly prescribing oxycodone and other powerful painkillers, and causing the deaths of two patients, including one from Long Island.

Li, 60, a New Jersey resident with an office in Flushing, Queens, was convicted in July of two counts of manslaughter, six counts of criminal endangerment and 180 counts of illegal sales of prescriptions for controlled substances.

Those included prescriptions for David Laffer in the months before he shot four people to death while stealing 11,000 oxycodone pills from a Medford pharmacy on June 19, 2011.

"I can find no benign explanation for what happened here," Judge Michael Sonberg said as he imposed the sentence in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.

The doctor, reading from handwritten notes, told Sonberg that he dealt with people who were reporting severe pain and had a high tolerance for opiates.

"I never intended to harm any of the patients," Li said.

More than 70 witnesses testified during the 18-week trial, detailing how Li's patients got trapped in cycles of pain, addiction and physical and mental decay -- and got repeated refills despite obvious signs of abuse.

The judge said Li failed to ask new patients about their medical history, and routinely accepted their claims that they had lost prescriptions or were going out of town.

"There was one patient who reported going to Florida 16 times in row," Sonberg said, sounding incredulous.

Li, an anesthesiologist at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton, New Jersey, netted more than $450,000 in three years from his one-day-a-week pain clinic in Flushing, the judge noted.

During a week on the witness stand, Li contended that he did nothing but believe patients who said they were in pain and fulfill his medical obligation to try to provide relief. He said no patient would have died or overdosed if they followed his prescriptions.

Jurors, however, returned manslaughter convictions in the deaths of Joseph Haeg, 37, of East Moriches, and Nicholas Rappold, 21, of Queens, who each died in 2009 within days of receiving a pain prescription from Li. Seven of Li's patients died from overdoses, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Li was the first doctor to be convicted of manslaughter in New York City for prescribing practices.

Rappold's mother, Margaret, told the judge Friday her son was "no angel," but said she hoped Li would spend the rest of his life in prison because "my son will never see the light of day."

Li was the second doctor to be convicted of prescribing pain pills to Laffer, who is serving a life sentence.

In May, Dr. Eric Jacobson of Huntington pleaded guilty in Central Islip federal court to illegally prescribing oxycodone to Laffer and 18 other patients. He is awaiting sentencing next month.

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