Merrick Doctor Indicted For The Overdose Deaths Of Two Nassau County Residents And Illegal Distribution Of Oxycodone To An Undercover Police Officer
An indictment was returned late yesterday in the United States Court for the Eastern District of New York charging Michael Belfiore, a Merrick, New York, doctor, with two counts of illegal distribution of oxycodone causing the deaths of two Nassau County residents, Edward Martin and John Ubaghs, and 26 counts of illegal distribution of oxycodone. The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. before United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York.
The charge was announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, James J. Hunt, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York, and Thomas C. Krumpter, Acting Commissioner, Nassau County Police Department.
“As alleged in the indictment, Dr. Belfiore’s illegal distribution of oxycodone tragically caused the overdose deaths of two young men,” stated Acting Unitied States Attorney Rohde. “Medical professionals who issue prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose are violating the law and will be held accountable, especially when they cause the death of the very patients they have a duty to heal.” Ms. Rohde extended her grateful appreciation to each of the law enforcement agencies for their assistance in this case. The case was investigated by the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad-Long Island District Office (TDS-LIDO), comprised of agents and officers of the DEA, Nassau County Police Department, Suffolk County Police Department, Port Washington Police Department, Rockville Centre Police Department, and the Internal Revenue Service.
“We hope the message is clear that law enforcement is zeroed in on opioid traffickers, whether a dealer, or a doctor,” stated Special Agent-in-Charge Hunt. “There is no excuse for medical professionals to engage in drug dealing, especially when that dealing ends lives.”
"The indictment of Dr. Belfiore during this multi-jurisdictional investigation is another reminder that we all have to continue to enforce the laws that will make society safer,” said Commissioner Krumpter. “These illegally prescribed drugs are detrimental to all and we need to continue to arrest the individuals responsible for their distribution.”
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.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a $10 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’ Centers 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 handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Lara Treinis Gatz and Charles N. Rose are in charge of the prosecution.
Name: MICHAEL BELFIORE
Residence: Westbury, New York
United States Attorney’s Office