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Press Release

Staten Island Physician’s Assistant Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To 11 Years In Prison For Massive Oxycodone Distribution Conspiracy

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

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that LEONARD MARCHETTA, a physician’s assistant, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 11 years in prison for conspiring to distribute large quantities of oxycodone out of his Staten Island-based medical clinic.  MARCHETTA was charged in September 2014 and pled guilty in January 2015 before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel, who also imposed today’s sentence.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Leonard Marchetta was responsible for the illegal distribution of more than 125,000 medically unnecessary oxycodone pills.  With his criminal distribution of highly addictive and dangerous drugs, Marchetta helped fuel the prescription pill epidemic plaguing our community.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment and statements made in connection with sentencing:

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 the time he was arrested, 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 individuals claiming to be “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 MARCHETTA 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.

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.

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In addition to his prison term, MARCHETTA, 48, of Staten Island, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay forfeiture in the amount of $1,870,680.   MARCHETTA has been detained since his arrest in September 2014.

Two other defendants, Gregory Zaccagnino and William Tagliaferro, previously pled guilty for their roles in the oxycodone distribution scheme.  Zaccagnino was sentenced by Judge Castel to six years in prison.  Tagliaferro has yet to be sentenced. 

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 (TDS-NY), 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.

Updated December 15, 2015

Press Release Number: 15-320