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Pill probe targets two Long Island docs

Dr. Eric Jacobson comments as federal agents raids

Dr. Eric Jacobson comments as federal agents raids his office in Great Neck. (Dec. 1, 2011) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Federal agents arrested yesterday a Long Island doctor who they say dispensed pain pill prescriptions from his car and raided the Great Neck office of a physician who prescribed thousands of painkillers to the couple convicted in the Medford pharmacy rampage.

The actions were part of a 7-month-old federal probe into painkiller distribution on Long Island, sources said.

Dr. Leonard I. Stambler of Baldwin Harbor was accused yesterday of intentionally conspiring to distribute a controlled substance.

An affidavit supporting Stambler's arrest warrant said undercover agents "learned that Stambler did not have a medical office or staff and drove around to patients' homes to deliver prescriptions."

The doctor was seen meeting with "purported patients" more than 20 times between March 3 and Nov. 21, "including meetings in Stambler's car" and "meetings outside Stambler's residence," the affidavit said.

Stambler also left prescriptions on his front porch for patients to retrieve, the affidavit said.


Combing through doctor's office

Meanwhile, a dozen agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service Thursday morning raided the Great Neck office of Dr. Eric Jacobson, who had prescribed thousands of painkillers for David Laffer and his wife, Melinda Brady, in the months before Laffer killed four people while robbing a Medford pharmacy for painkillers in June.

Jacobson, who was not arrested, said the increased focus on prescription drug abuse led to the search.

"I believe the terrible incident that happened in Medford was the impetus to bring attention to the oxycodone dilemma on the streets today," Jacobson said while standing in the hallway as agents combed through medical records in his office.

"Because I'm one of the doctors who happens to prescribe a lot of it, [I have] become the focus of an investigation."

Stambler did not enter a plea at his arraignment in federal court in Central Islip and was held without bail after the court was informed that Town of Hempstead officials, acting on a report from federal agents, condemned his filth-ridden home on Eastern Parkway.

Prosecutor Allen Bode told U.S. Magistrate Arlene Lindsay that the defendant did not have a home to which he could return. Defense attorney Gary Schoer of Syosset declined to comment.

The affidavit said, "The DEA is currently conducting an investigation into persons distributing Oxycodone in Nassau County, New York."


Probe predates Medford rampage

Federal officials declined to discuss the investigation Thursday, but sources said it predated the Medford killings by several months.

Oxycodone, which is highly addictive, is a slow-release medication usually prescribed for pain relief, but drug abusers crush the protective coating and snort it or inject it to get a euphoria similar to that produced by heroin.

Stambler was charged with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance/Oxycodone, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years if convicted.

Agents who went to Stambler's home at 3103 Eastern Pkwy. Thursday found it reeking of cat urine and littered with garbage. Boxes of mail yellowed with age were on the porch. The agents notified the Town of Hempstead, which condemned the home and posted signs reading "Do Not Enter."

State records show that Jacobson gave Laffer and Brady 23 prescriptions for 3,720 pain pills from August of last year to June 7. He said he typically writes about 300 to 400 prescriptions for 150 patients a week and has done nothing wrong.

"Patients basically come to me because they're dissatisfied with the treatment they're getting at other pain management centers and through word-of-mouth and recommendations. They like the care they get here. They don't sit and wait eight hours to see the doctor. They're treated with respect. And they're charged reasonable fees for the services rendered," Jacobson said. "Someone has to be in the top 10 and I'm one of them."

The records show that Jacobson's patients filled more than 10,500 prescriptions for controlled substances in the first nine months of this year. That total ranks eighth in the state, according to records.

Jacobson said Thursday that he plans to voluntarily stop prescribing controlled substances.

"The DEA is conducting an investigation. They have concerns and if those concerns indicate I'm not practicing appropriately I want to address that," he said. "It's a good time also to reflect and make sure I'm doing things appropriately."

With Matthew Chayes, William Murphy and Will Van Sant

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