5 doctors among 10 arrested in New York City prescription drug bust

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Rob Nelson reports on the Staten Island drug bust arrest.

Five doctors, a pharmacist and three medical assistants are among 10 people facing federal charges in a major drug bust, with the suspects accused of collecting millions of dollars for prescribing millions of oxycodone pills.

The doctors were located in Manhattan, Queens, Westchester County and on Staten Island, and the allegations are as follows:

Dr. Dante Cubangbang - Queens

Authorities say Dr. Cubangbang operated a medical clinic in Queens with nurse practitioner John Gargan and employed Michael Kellerman and Loren Piquant. According to the allegations in the indictment, Dr. Cubangbang and Gargan prescribed more than 6 million oxycodone pills to individuals they knew did not need the medication for any legitimate medical reason.

They allegedly prescribed more than twice as many oxycodone pills that were paid for by Medicare and Medicaid than the next highest prescriber in New York state. Officials say they doled out these prescriptions during office visits that lasted no more than a few minutes and involved little to no physical examination. Together with Kellerman and Piquant, who worked in the clinic and recruited patients, they allegedly collected more than $5 million in all-cash office visit fees, which they laundered and divided.

Dr. Carl Anderson - Staten Island

Dr. Anderson allegedly prescribed nearly a million oxycodone pills to patients he knew had no legitimate medical need for the medication, including Arthur Grande, who is accused of selling the pills on the streets of New York City. Authorities say Dr. Anderson often saw his patients, some of whom displayed visible signs of drug addiction, without appointments and with little notice, in the middle of the night, and required that they pay hundreds of dollars in cash for each prescription.

Neighbors say noisy crowds of pill-seeking patients often gathered outside of his office and in his waiting room, prompting occasional 911 calls. Officials said that even after some of his patients died of drug overdoses, he did not alter his prescribing practices.

Dr. Anthony Pietropinto - Manhattan

Authorities say Dr. Pietropinto wrote thousands of medically unnecessary oxycodone prescriptions in exchange for $50 to $100 in cash per visit, writing these prescriptions to drug-addicted individuals including one patient who overdosed on drugs and who had previously been prescribed both oxycodone and the overdose-reversing drug naloxone by Dr. Pietropinto.

Dr. Pietropinto allegedly saw these patients in a rented office space after hours and instructed his patients to not fill prescriptions at large chain pharmacies because pharmacists at those pharmacies would call and question why he wrote prescriptions for large amounts of oxycodone.

Dr. Nkanga Nkanga - Staten Island

Dr. Nkanga allegedly wrote thousands of oxycodone prescriptions for patients, some of whom displayed visible signs of drug addiction, without conducting any physical examination or even seeing them in an examination room. Authorities say Dr. Nkanga also wrote prescriptions in the names of patients who did not even visit his medical office.

On one occasion, officials say Dr. Nkanga asked a patient, "How many people are you representing today?" and then wrote prescriptions in the names of people even though three were not present. Dr. Nkanga is accused of regularly prescribing more than 100 oxycodone pills per patient per month until July 2018, when authorities say he reduced all patients' monthly allotment, telling one patient he was "very worried" about scrutiny from law enforcement.

Dr. Nadem Sayegh - Bronx and Westchester

Dr. Sayegh allegedly maintained a corrupt relationship with a co-conspirator, issuing oxycodone prescriptions in his name, variations of his name, his family members' names, and the names of other individuals in exchange for thousands of dollars in cash, expensive dinners, high-end whisky, cruises, and all-expense-paid trips.

Authorities say Dr. Sayegh wrote some of these prescriptions, for which there was no legitimate medical purpose, for individuals who did not visit his medical office, including a patient who was overseas and another patient who was incarcerated.

Marc Klein - Pharmacist in White Plains

Authorities say Klein filled oxycodone prescriptions that he knew were illegitimate, including prescriptions filled by a customer in multiple variations of his name and date of birth, and prescriptions filled in the names of individuals who never were present in the pharmacy.

Klein allegedly filled thousands of these oxycodone prescriptions, "fronted" controlled substances, and made false reports to New York State authorities, in exchange for cash payments and a vacation. Officials say Klein admitted, in substance, that he and his employees could be called "licensed drug dealers" because "oxy pays the bills."

Charges

Dr. Cubangbang, 50, of Franklin Square; Gargan, 62, of Manhattan; Kellerman, 54, of Queens; and Piquant, 37, of the Bronx, are charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Additionally, Dr. Cubangbang, Gargan and Kellerman are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Dr. Anderson, 57, of Staten Island, and Grande, 53, of Staten Island, are charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Dr. Pietropinto, 80, of Manhattan, is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and two counts of distribution of controlled substances, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Dr. Nkanga, 65, of Staten Island, is charged in an Indictment with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and four counts of distribution of controlled substances, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Dr. Sayegh, 64, of Yonkers, is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of distribution of controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of health care fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; and aggravated identity theft, which carries a two year mandatory minimum prison sentence to be served consecutive to any other term of imprisonment.

Klein, 47, of White Plains, is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and 14 counts of distribution of controlled substances, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
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doctor arresteddrug bustoxycodoneprescription drugsu.s. & worldNew York
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