Staten Island Physician’s Assistant Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Massive Oxycodone Distribution Conspiracy
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that LEONARD MARCHETTA, a physician’s assistant, pled guilty in Manhattan federal court to conspiring to distribute a massive quantity of oxycodone out of a Staten Island-based medical clinic he oversaw. During a period of approximately three years, in exchange for cash payments, MARCHETTA wrote medically unnecessary prescriptions for more than 125,000 30-milligram oxycodone pills to individuals claiming to be “patients,” and on a number of occasions MARCHETTA issued prescriptions in the names of fictitious individuals or individuals whom he had never seen. MARCHETTA was charged in September 2014, and pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said “As Leonard Marchetta oversaw the day-to-day operations of the Staten Island clinic where he worked as a physician’s assistant, he also sat at the center of a scheme to dole out medically unnecessary prescriptions for more than 125,000 oxycodone pills to fake ‘patients.’ His guilty plea today ensures that he will be punished for contributing to the prescription pill abuse epidemic.”
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment and statements made at today’s plea proceeding:
As a physician’s assistant, MARCHETTA, under the supervision of a physician or surgeon, was able to diagnose and treat illnesses and prescribe medications. From at least 2012 until his arrest, MARCHETTA was employed by and oversaw the day-to-day operations of a Staten Island-based medical clinic (the “Clinic”), which advertised itself to the public as a family medical clinic.
During an approximately three-year period, MARCHETTA prescribed oxycodone to “patients” who had no medical need for oxycodone and no legitimate medical record documenting an ailment for which oxycodone would be prescribed. MARCHETTA’s fee for his participation in the scheme was typically approximately $250 in cash for “doctor visits” that usually lasted just a minute or two, involved no actual physical examination, and consistently resulted in the issuance of a prescription for large doses of oxycodone, typically 150 30-milligram tablets. MARCHETTA also received a separate fee of approximately $500 in cash for each medically unnecessary oxycodone prescription he issued. On a number of occasions, MARCHETTA issued prescriptions in the names of fictitious individuals or individuals whom he never saw in exchange for cash. In total, MARCHETTA wrote medically unnecessary prescriptions for more than 125,000 30-milligram oxycodone pills during a period of approximately three years.
As part of the scheme, MARCHETTA’s co-conspirators recruited and paid individuals to pose as “patients” in order to receive medically unnecessary prescriptions from MARCHETTA. On a number of occasions, MARCHETTA wrote a prescription in the name of the “patient” without the “patient” setting foot in the Clinic.
After MARCHETTA issued a medically unnecessary oxycodone prescription in the name of the “patient,” the “patient” was taken or referred to a pharmacy to fill the oxycodone prescription – that is, to obtain the oxycodone tablets – in part for distribution. The patients were paid, typically $150 to $200 in cash, for obtaining and handing over the oxycodone tablets that MARCHETTA had prescribed to them. At times, the “patients,” some of whom were addicted to oxycodone, were paid with oxycodone tablets for their services.
MARCHETTA, 47, of Staten Island, New York, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He also agreed to forfeit the proceeds that he received from the scheme. MARCHETTA is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Castel on April 16, 2015, at 11:30 a.m. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of MARCHETTA will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara thanked the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the New York State Department of Financial Services, and the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad New York – comprising agents and officers from the DEA, the New York City Police Department, Town of Orangetown Police Department, and Westchester County Police Department – for their work in the investigation, which he noted is ongoing.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward A. Imperatore is in charge of the prosecution.