What began as a seemingly routine prescription pill investigation into a Great Neck cardiologist spiraled into a complex probe into a brazen murder-for-hire plot allegedly targeting a former business partner-turned rival doctor, authorities said Wednesday at a press conference announcing the bizarre Gold Coast feud.
The 54-year-old cardiologist at the center of it all, Dr. Anthony J. Moschetto of Sands Point, was arrested Tuesday and charged with various crimes, including conspiracy, arson and criminal solicitation. Investigators discovered illegal guns and a cache of weapons, including ornate swords, daggers and axes, as a part of the probe, authorities said.
“It’s unusual for an investigation to reveal such a wide array of crimes being committed by an individual who is seemingly respected by the medical community,” said acting-Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter. Moschetto, Krumpter added, “was exposed as a deplorable, despicable criminal.”
Two men—41-year-old James Kalamaras of Suffolk County and 43-year-old James Chmela of Selden—whom Moschetto allegedly solicited to destroy his rival’s office building at 38 Northern Blvd. in Great Neck in February were also arrested Tuesday for arson, authorities said. Both Chmela and Kalamaras were also charged with burglary while Chmela was additionally charged with criminal possession of a weapon and criminal sale of a firearm.
On the same day he was arrested, officers executed a search warrant at Moschetto’s home, which allegedly revealed a cache of weapons—many of them illegal—located in an apparently secret room behind a motorized bookcase that only opens when a switch is activated, authorities said.
The five-month investigation, which is still ongoing, began in December when the Drug Enforcement Administration, after receiving a tip, became suspicious of unusually high prescriptions of oxycodone coming out of Moschetto’s Great Neck office, authorities said.
“The investigation led to the discovery of a common link between this contraband and a then-unsolved Feb. 25 arson in Great Neck, and even a subsequent murder-for-hire plot that was foiled by this investigation,” acting-Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said Wednesday.
Moschetto “was the supplier and mastermind behind this elaborate scheme,” Singas added.
Authorities said Moschetto and the intended victim had a business relationship and worked out of the same office.
The seemingly conventional probe sparked a multi-agency investigation that authorities said also uncovered an illegal drug distribution scheme and put the brakes on the trafficking of illegal weapons.
Moschetto was arrested after he was seen on video allegedly soliciting an undercover officer to murder a competing doctor, officials said. Investigators were also able to link Moschetto and the two other defendants to a failed arson attempt at the rival doctor’s office building, authorities said.
No one was injured and the blaze caused minimal damage to the building because the fire was set directly below the office’s sprinkler system. The fire was extinguished quickly and Nassau County fire officials were able to obtain evidence from the scene, authorities said. At the press conference, authorities displayed surveillance photos of the arson as it was in progress.
Authorities did not say why the relationship between the two doctors soured, but once it did, Moschetto moved his practice to 370 Northern Blvd. in Great Neck. Investigators also revealed that the intended victim filed a harassment complaint against Moschetto with Nassau police.
“[Moschetto] wanted to put him out of business so he could get his business,” said Anne Donnelly, deputy chief of organized crime and racketeering bureau, and an assistant district attorney.
The DEA’s investigation began in December with the first of six undercover drug buys, which continued until last month, the district attorney’s office said. More than 400 oxycodone pills were sold during that time as well as 198 bags of heroin, the DA’s office said. The probe also led to a more recent sale that included two assault rifles and heroin.
After the alleged arson attempt, undercover officers overhead a conversation that connected the office fire to the guns and pills, Donnelly said.
Discussion of the alleged murder-for-hire plot began after the failed arson attempt, authorities said. Moschetto was allegedly prepared to pay the supposed hit-man $5,000 to assault the doctor bad enough that he’d have to be hospitalized for several months and $20,000 to kill him. Moschetto, authorities said, gave a confidential informant and the undercover officer blank prescriptions and cash as payments. Guns were also offered as payment, officials said. At one point, Moschetto allegedly broached the topic of assaulting the victim’s wife if she was present during the encounter.
Prosecutors said Moschetto frequently see-sawed between having his competitor injured or killed.
“At the time of Dr. Moschetto’s arrest [Tuesday], his instruction had most recently reverted back to the commission of an assault against his victim,” the DA’s office said in a press release.
The collection of weapons seized by police seemed better suited for a Hollywood thriller set: daggers decorated with hissing dragons, dragon-winged double-sided axes, demonic-handled knives, and blade-protruding brass knuckles similar to the claws that shoot out of the hands of “X-Men” comic hero Wolverine.
“I can’t imagine what evil this man has already committed and what evil he planned in the future,” Krumpter said.
Moschetto, who was also charged with criminal sale of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon, burglary, criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance, was expected to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon at First District Court in Hempstead. His attorney’s information was not immediately available.