A Merrick doctor padded his bank account by illegally prescribing oxycodone to an undercover investigator posing as a patient who didn’t really need the drugs during a five-month period last year, federal prosecutors said.
Michael Belfiore, 51, of Westbury, surrendered to authorities Wednesday, when he was charged with illegally distributing oxycodone.
“Dr. Belfiore used his prescription-writing privileges not to help patients as was his duty but to pad his bank account,” Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, said in a statement.
Prosecutors said Belfiore allegedly issued six oxycodone prescriptions to an undercover Nassau County police officer despite their being no medical reason to do so, in exchange for thousands of dollars, between March 15, 2013 and August 12, 2013, authorities said.
Belfiore landed on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s radar in the spring of 2013 after receiving complaints about his prescription writing practices, according to the criminal complaint. Specifically, several pharmacists and others were concerned that Belfiore was illegally issuing a large number of prescriptions to people who were abusing oxycodone pills, the criminal complaint states.
Prescription records from Jan. 2010 and March 2013 obtained by the DEA revealed that he wrote approximately 5,000 oxycodone prescriptions for more than 600,000 pills—an “extremely high” number of prescriptions and pills issued by a sole practitioner, authorities alleged in the court documents.
The undercover officer met with Belfiore under the false pretense that he was seeking treatment for back and shoulder pain. The officer said he previously obtained the pills from an ex-girlfriend and one of Belfiore’s patients, according to the complaint. Authorities said the officer was then issued a prescription for ninety, 30-milligram oxycodone pills. He paid $425, according to the complaint.
The officer and Belfiore met five more times, and five additional prescriptions were written, authorities allege.
If convicted, Belfiore faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Drug addicts often turn to prescription medications when they can’t get their hands on illegal street substances. When crushed into a powder and ingested, Oxycodone, a powerful and highly addictive drug, creates a heroin-like high.