New York doctor, Joseph Santiamo, 65 pictured), has admitted to distributing opioids without a legitimate medical reason and soliciting sexual favors from patients in exchange for pill prescriptions
A New York doctor has admitted to distributing at least 100,000 opioid pills without a legitimate medical reason and soliciting sexual favors from patients in exchange for pill prescriptions, according to US Attorney Craig Carpenito.
Joseph Santiamo, 65, of Staten Island, pleaded guilty by videoconference before US District Judge Michael A. Shipp on Wednesday with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.
‘This defendant knowingly prescribed for his patients dangerous quantities of oxycodone, and even more egregiously, solicited sexual favors from certain patients who were struggling with substance abuse in exchange for writing them additional opioid prescriptions,’ Carpenito said.
‘Many of these patients were dealing with pain and addiction, and instead of getting help from their doctor, they were drawn deeper into the cycle of drug abuse. His admission of guilt today ensures that he will be appropriately punished for this behavior,’ Carpenito added.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court Santiamo owned and operated a medical practice in Staten Island focused on internal medicine and geriatric care from January 1, 2012, through May 3, 2018.
Authorities said Santiamo prescribed large quantities of oxycodone ‘outside the ordinary course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose’.
‘For a number of his patients, there was no medical necessity for Santiamo to treat them with oxycodone, nor to prescribe the large quantities that he did,’ a statement from the Justice Department reads.
Santiamo would solicit sexual favors from some of his younger patients in exchange for the oxycodone prescriptions.
These patients were all under the age of 40 at the time Santiamo provided them with prescriptions and thus would not typically be treated by a geriatric care physician like Santiamo, authorities said.
The count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1million fine. Santiamo is free on $250,000 bond. Sentencing for Santiamo has been scheduled for April 12, 2021. Santiamo’s practice is pictured i Staten Island
‘In some instances, Santiamo did this despite evidence that certain patients were abusing opioids,’ officials added.
When news of the illegal activity broke last year, Santiamo was said to have written prescriptions for more than 100,000 opioid pills.
‘This defendant not only violated his oath to help people, he took advantage of them when they were most vulnerable for his own selfish needs,’ Susan A. Gibson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division, said.
‘The only difference between him and a person who deals drugs on the street is the white lab coat he wears. The men and women of the DEA are always committed to pursue those who choose to violate the law,’ Gibson added.
The count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1million fine.
Santiamo is free on $250,000 bond. Sentencing for Santiamo has been scheduled for April 12, 2021.