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Press Release

Former Medical Doctor Sentenced to 20 Years’ Imprisonment For Unlawful Distribution of Opioids and Causing the Overdose Death of a Patient

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York

Martin Tesher, a former family medical doctor, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Raymond J. Dearie to 20 years’ imprisonment for nine counts of unlawful distribution of oxycodone without a legitimate medical purpose and one count of unlawful distribution of oxycodone and fentanyl that resulted in the death of a patient.  The Court also ordered Tesher to pay $3,700 in restitution and forfeit $2,725 in criminal proceeds.  Tesher was convicted by a federal jury in July 2018 following a nearly two-week trial.    

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Ray Donovan, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division (DEA), announced the sentence.

Between June 2013 and January 2017, Tesher prescribed oxycodone tablets and fentanyl patches without a legitimate medical purpose to five patients after learning, or had reason to believe, that these patients were addicted to drugs.  None of these patients had verified medical conditions that would require the prescription of Schedule II opioids.  While under Tesher’s care, Nicholas Benedetto, 27, tested positive for cocaine, heroin, methadone, oxycodone and fentanyl.  Nonetheless, Tesher prescribed oxycodone and fentanyl patches for Benedetto.  On March 5, 2016, Benedetto was found dead of a fatal combination of oxycodone and fentanyl, two days after he had been prescribed those drugs by Tesher.    

“In the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic, Dr. Tesher used his medical skills to harm, not heal and in doing so he cost a young man his life,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “Such criminal conduct is an utter betrayal of the trust our society places in doctors and it warrants the severe sentence imposed today.”

 “Today’s sentence demonstrates how DEA, EDNY and their many law enforcement partners have come full circle to eliminate the threat of rogue doctors, like Tesher who posed a threat to the public health of the citizens of New York City, Staten Island, and beyond,” stated DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Donovan.  “DEA and its law enforcement partners will continue to seek justice for patients like Nicholas Benedetto, as well as the countless other families and friends who have suffered greatly at the hands of this opioid epidemic.”

The government’s investigation was led by the DEA’s Long Island Tactical Diversion Squad, comprising agents and officers of the DEA, Internal Revenue Service, Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), Port Washington Police Department and Rockville Centre Police Department.  The DEA Tactical Diversion Squad also worked in conjunction with officers and agents of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), Criminal Enterprise Investigations, the Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General and NCPD’s Asset Forfeiture and Intelligence Bureau. 

This case 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, this Office and the DEA, in conjunction with the five District Attorneys in this district, the NCPD and SCPD, the NYPD and the New York State Police, along with other key federal, state and local government partners, launched the Initiative to mount a comprehensive response to what the United States Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called an epidemic increase in the abuse of so-called opioid analgesics.  To date, the Initiative has brought over 160 federal and local criminal prosecutions, including the prosecution of 20 health care professionals; taken civil enforcement actions against a hospital, a pharmacy and pharmacy chain; 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 government’s case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer M. Sasso and Penelope Brady are in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendant:

Age:  83
Manhattan, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CR-523 (RJD)


John Marzulli
Tyler Daniels
United States Attorney’s Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated April 30, 2019