Merrick Doctor Arrested For The Illegal Distribution Of Oxycodone To An Undercover Police Officer
Doctor Issues Prescription Without Legitimate Medical Need
Michael Belfiore, an Merrick, New York, doctor, was charged this morning pursuant to a criminal complaint1 with illegally distributing oxycodone, a highly addictive prescription pain medication. The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown at the United States Courthouse located in Central Islip, New York.
The charge was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, James J. Hunt, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York, and Thomas C. Krumpter, Acting Commissioner, Nassau County Police Department (NCPD).
This morning, as part of a federal and state Prescription Drug Initiative in the Eastern District of New York, Belfiore surrendered to members of a DEA Tactical Diversion Squad, comprising DEA agents and officers of the Nassau County Police Department, Rockville Centre Police Department, and Port Washington Police Department, on charges of illegally distributing oxycodone between March 15, 2013 and August 12, 2013. According to the complaint, over the course of six months, Belfiore issued six prescriptions for oxycodone to an undercover Nassau County Police Officer without a legitimate medical purpose in exchange for thousands of dollars.
United State Attorney Lynch stated, “Dr. Belfiore used his prescription-writing privileges not to help patients as was his duty but to pad his bank account. Doctors who issue prescriptions without a legitimate medical need are violating the law and will be held accountable.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to each of the law enforcement agencies for their assistance in this case.
DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge stated, “There is no excuse for doctors to write unnecessary prescriptions in exchange for cash, nor has there ever been. Dr. Belfiore has been added to the list of those who perpetuate the spread of opioid addiction by allegedly facilitating the distribution of over half a million of oxycodone throughout the streets of Long Island. I commend the men and women of the Long Island Tactical Diversion Squad and the US Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York for their tenacious work on this investigation.”
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.
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a $1 million fine.
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 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 United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Center 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 160 federal and local criminal prosecutions, including the prosecution of 15 health care professionals, taken civil enforcement actions against a hospital, a pharmacy, and a 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 prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz.
Name: MICHAEL BELFIORE
Residence: Westbury, New York
1 The charge announced today is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.