Long Island Dr. Feel-Good Charged In Oxycodone Overdose Deaths Of Two Patients
A Long Island physician has been charged in the deaths of two patients who overdosed on Oxycodone last year, federal prosecutors announced this morning.
Additionally, the doctor's former office assistant has been hit with charges alleging that he was involved in the unlawful distribution of the dangerous narcotic drug to several patients, many of whom didn't actually need it for anything other than feeding their addiction.
According to a 47-count indictment unsealed by federal prosecutors this morning, between January 2009 and November of 2011, Doctor William Conway wrote 5,554 prescriptions -- 782,032 pills -- for oxycodone to "patients" he knew were addicted to the drug. In many cases, he did so without requiring the "patients" to undergo a medical examination.
Two of those patients, Giovanni Manzella and Christopher Basmas, died from overdoses of the drugs.
In Manzella's case, he was pronounced dead on April 23, 2011, less than 48 hours after Conway had written him two prescriptions for a total of 450 pills of Oxycodone.
Basmas died on October 27, 2011, just two days after Conway had written him a prescription for 180 pills.
Following Basmas' death, the feds say Conway attempted to alter patient records to make it look as thought he'd given him an actual medical examination when, in fact, he hadn't -- he just recorded his height and weight, etc.
Conway's former office assistant, Robert Hachemeister -- known as "Dr. Bob," despite having no medical or nursing degree -- has been charged with conspiracy and distribution of Oxycodone for allegedly handing out prescriptions for the drug from a prescription pad pre-signed by Conway.
Conway initially was arrested in June, when state and federal authorities went gangbusters on prescription pill distributors in a sweep that netted 100 arrests, including Conway and another doctor.
The sweep came on the heels of a 98-page grand jury report released in May by Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota about prescription drug abuse on Long Island. The report was in response to the "Father's Day Massacre," when a pill junky murdered four people while robbing prescription painkillers from a pharmacy in Medford. As we noted in May, the report ain't pretty.
According to the report, Suffolk County has 70 percent more Oxycontin prescriptions than the average of any other state.
The report also finds that overdose victims with Oxycontin in their blood has risen 266 percent since 2004.
Since 1996, the Suffolk County Drug Court program has seen a 1,136 percent increase in opioid pill abuse.
If convicted, Conway faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum sentence he could receive is life.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.