NY Doctor Charged For Illegal Oxycodone Prescriptions Resulting In Two Deaths
According to law enforcement, Dr. Michael Belfiore, 51, who practices in Merrick, has been charged in the deaths of two patients whom he illegally prescribed oxycodone. He is also being charged with more than two dozen counts of illegal distribution of the drug.
Belfiore had previously been charged last year with the illegal distribution of a controlled substance. This indictment including 29 charges, but no fatalitiesfatalities were mentioned. Earlier this month, a judge was forced to dismiss the indictment based on a technicality, but the judge said the case could be refiled and the U.S. attorney’s office stated that they planned to do so.
The filing stated that there was no legitimate medical reason for Belfiore to be writing the oxycodone prescriptions to the patients.
Since that time, medical examiners have linked the deaths of John Ubaghs, 33, from Balwin, and Edward Marin, 43, from East Rockaway. Illegal distribution of oxycodone could result in a sentence of up to 20 years (no minimum) but if a death result, the sentence can range from an automatic minimum 20 years to life.
East District U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde:
“Dr. Belfiore’s illegal distribution of oxycodone tragically caused the overdose deaths of two young men. Medical professionals who issue prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose are violating the law and will be held accountable…”
Belfiore’s attorney, however, states his client is innocent of the deaths, stating that case law has decided that a physician is not responsible for a patient’s use of medication outside of his practice.
In court documents, he also contends that Belfiore is not guilty of illegal distribution of oxycodone, either, because pharmaceutical companies have long touted oxycodone’s safety and effectiveness, and have actively encouraged physicians to prescribe the drug.
Belfiore was initially arrested in 2014, and an undercover detective reported that the doctor had prescribed him oxycodone with little or no examination after a simple complaint of pain.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology