December 03, 2014
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-3900
Binghamton Area Physician Required To Pay Civil Penalty For Violations Of The Federal Controlled Substances Act
Broome County Ophthalmologist settles for $75,000.00
ALBANY, N.Y. - United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian announced his office reached a civil settlement with Dr. J. Louis Pecora, an Endicott, New York ophthalmologist, for $75,000.00. As part of the settlement, Dr. Pecora also voluntarily surrendered his Drug Enforcement (DEA) numbers, which enables physicians to prescribe controlled substances. The settlement was in connection with violations of the Controlled Substances Act.
In August of 2012, DEA was notified that Dr. Pecora had made suspicious orders of hydrocodone. Thereafter, DEA and New York State Police investigators conducted an inspection of Dr. Pecora’s office and home and subsequently questioned him about controlled substances he purchased between January 18, 2010 and August 8, 2012. According to the complaint filed in connection with the settlement, Dr. Pecora ordered schedule III controlled substances on 18 occasions for personal use, between January 18, 2010 and August 8, 2012. More specifically, within this time period, Dr. Pecora ordered 3,800 tablets of Hydrocodone and 500 tablets of Vicodin ES, schedule III controlled substances, for personal use, without a medical purpose and outside the usual course of his professional practice. Pursuant to regulations, a prescription for a controlled substance to be effective must be issued for a legitimate medical purpose by an individual practitioner acting in the usual course of his or her professional practice. When Dr. Pecora ordered these controlled substances for his personal use, he did not meet these requirements. In addition, according to the complaint, Dr. Pecora refused or negligently failed to maintain a biennial inventory of controlled substances from January 18, 2010 to August 8, 2012. A biennial inventory of all controlled substances on hand is required by federal regulations.
The Controlled Substances Act was enacted to ensure that controlled substances are properly regulated and to help prevent drug diversion. Prescription drug abuse is a significant nationwide issue. According to U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian, his office takes drug diversion very seriously and will aggressively pursue those who violate the Controlled Substances Act, especially if they are professionals in the medical field. “It simply is unacceptable for medical professionals to act irresponsibly when handling controlled substances. The potential for these substances to end up in the wrong hands is something we are not willing to risk, and we will take whatever steps are necessary to prevent this from happening.”