OCT 18 (BROOKLYN, N.Y.) Yesterday, following three weeks of trial, a jury in federal court in Central Islip, New York, returned a verdict convicting Long Island doctor Leonard I. Stambler of Baldwin Harbor, New York, of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and distribution of oxycodone, in connection with prescriptions that he provided to patients without a legitimate medical purpose. The defendant faces imprisonment of up to 20 years at sentencing. Sentencing is scheduled for February 14, 2014, before United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco. After the verdict, the defendant’s bail was revoked, and he was ordered detained pending sentencing
The conviction was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Brian R. Crowell, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York; Thomas V. Dale, Commissioner, Nassau County Police Department (NCPD); Joseph A. D’Amico, Superintendent, New York State Police (NYSP); and Toni Weirauch, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, New York (IRS).
At trial, the government’s evidence established that Stambler provided prescriptions for hundreds of oxycodone pills to two of his patients without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the course of a professional medical practice, and also conspired with those patients and assisted them in the sale of pills that he prescribed. On November 21, 2011, investigators with the DEA Task Force observed Stambler driving his patient, Christopher Adams, to a pharmacy in East Rockaway, New York, where Stambler and Adams filled a prescription that Stambler had written in the name of Adams’s girlfriend, Nancy Cook. As investigators watched, Stambler then drove Adams to a nearby location to meet with a third individual where some of the oxycodone pills were exchanged for cash. Investigators stopped Stambler’s vehicle shortly after the drug deal. The government’s evidence also established that on a separate occasion, Stambler drove Cook, who was also Stambler’s patient, to a home in East Rockaway where she sold oxycodone pills to the same individual involved in the November 21, 2011, drug deal. Both Adams and Cook testified at trial about Stambler’s participation in the drug transactions as well as their own destructive addiction to oxycodone.
Oxycodone is a scheduled controlled substance that may be dispensed by medical professionals only for a legitimate medical purpose in the usual course of a doctor’s professional practice. It is a powerful and highly addictive drug, and is increasingly abused because of its potency when crushed into a powder and ingested, leading to a heroin like euphoria.
“Instead of living up to his responsibilities as a trusted physician, Stambler assumed the role of a drug dealer, acting to put hundreds of oxycodone pills onto the streets of Long Island for no valid medical reason, but simply to make money,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “This conviction should serve as a warning to any physicians engaged in such conduct that in addition to losing his or her license to practice medicine, they will face the prospect of a felony conviction.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to each of the law enforcement agencies for their assistance in this case.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell stated, “There is not a difference between a street drug dealer and a local doctor illegally prescribing prescription medication for profit. This conviction is yet another example of a rogue medical professional fueling the drug threat in our communities for easy drug money. This should send the message of the enormity of dangers associated with illegal prescription drug sales and abuse. Sixty percent of overdose deaths nationwide involve prescription drugs, and this conviction proves law enforcement views the diversion of prescription drugs as seriously as the distribution of illegal drugs such as heroin, which leave a wake of devastation in our homes and communities. I would like to thank the US Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York for their vigilant efforts, as well as the dedicated women and men assigned to the DEA Task Force comprised of DEA Special Agents, Nassau County Detectives and New York State Police Investigators."Stambler’s conviction is the latest in a series of federal prosecutions by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York as part of the Prescription Drug Initiative. In January 2012, the United States Attorney’s Office and the DEA, in conjunction with the five District Attorneys in this jurisdiction, the Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments, the New York City Police Department, and New York State Police, along with other key federal, state, and local government partners, launched the Prescription Drug Initiative to mount a comprehensive response to what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called an epidemic increase in the abuse of so-called opioid analgesics. So far, the Prescription Drug Initiative has brought over 120 federal and local criminal prosecutions, taken civil enforcement action against a pharmacy, removed prescription authority from numerous rogue doctors, and expanded information-sharing among enforcement agencies to better target and pursue drug traffickers. The Initiative also is involved in an extensive community outreach program to address the abuse of pharmaceuticals. The joint investigation was led by the Long Island DEA Task Force which is comprised of agents and officers from the DEA, NCPD and NYSP with assistance from the IRS.