A New York doctor could get up to 20 years prison for unlawfully dispensing the habit-forming opioid painkiller oxycodone.
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Staten Island's Dr. Carl Anderson pled guilty on Friday to one count of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone, the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York announced.
According to prosecutors, Anderson wrote "medically unnecessary prescriptions" for patients he knew "had no legitimate medical need" for the drug -- including some who were addicts and some who later sold the drug. At times, prosectors say, he required buyers to meet him at his home at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m., making them pay for the scripts in cash -- $150 or $200 per prescription.
Police seized $264,164 in illegal proceeds from the drug payments after his arrest. Anderson agreed to forfeit that money as part of the guilty plea.
It all began in 2006 until he was arrested in 2018, police say.
A federal judge has not yet said when he will be sentenced. Anderson's co-defendant Arthur Grande pled guilty to the same offense on Oct. 1.
Oxycodone is a kind of opioid prescribed to treat serious pain. But it can quickly become addictive. Taken in excess or not as prescribed or without a genuine, medical reason, oxycodone can be life-threatening. It's also a lucrative drug, when sold by dealers on the street. Prosecutors put the price of 30-milligram oxycodone tablets at approximately $30 each in New York City.
In the plea deal, Anderson conceded that he "violated [his] duties granted to [him] as a licensed physician," "willfully turned a blind eye to ... suspicions," and participated in a "scheme" that "amounted to ... diversion" of oxycodone.
"As a physician, Carl Anderson should have been the first line of defense in the ongoing opioid epidemic," U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. "Instead, as he admitted in federal court today, in exchange for cash payments, Anderson conspired with others to dispense dangerous and addictive opiates that were being sold on the street. He now faces serious prison time for his actions."