We discussed earlier this month how Michael Belfiore, a Long Island physician who was arrested after prescribing an undercover officer oxycodone without legitimate reason, had the charges placed against him dismissed without prejudice due to a filing error. Belfiore had been facing a potential 20 years in prison for overprescribing pain pills, such as OxyCodone, to numerous patients – many that didn’t require pain medication. The Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s office still planned to bring another indictment against Belfiore. This indictment, however, is much more serious than the one he had been facing prior.
Now, Belfiore’s indictment includes two counts of illegal distribution resulting in death. According to the indictment, Belfiore’s prescription of oxycodone to two of his Nassau County patients, Edward Martin and John Ubaghs, caused their death in 2013. If convicted, Belfiore will face a minimum of 20 years in prison and a $10 million fine.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent-in-Charge James Hunt remarked: “We hope the message is clear that law enforcement is zeroed in on opioid traffic, whether a dealer, or a doctor…There is no excuse for medical professionals to engage in drug dealing, especially when that dealing ends lives.”
It might seem impossible to point blame toward any one outlet – be it Big Pharma, corrupt doctors, or drug dealers – for the opiate abuse epidemic. But holding those individuals found responsible is most definitely a good start.