New Jersey doctor known as ‘El Chapo Of Opioids’ prescribed painkillers to strangers: feds
A New Jersey doctor who dubbed himself as the “El Chapo of Opioids” admitted to doling out powerful painkillers to patients he never saw – often leaving prescriptions at a front desk, federal prosecutors said.
Robert Delagente, 45, pleaded guilty in Newark federal court Monday to distribution of controlled dangerous substances, conspiracy to distribute them and falsifying medical records for acting as a pill-mill doctor at North Jersey Family Medicine in Oakland, the New Jersey US Attorney’s Office announced.
“This defendant knowingly prescribed for his patients some of the most dangerous and addictive drugs available, sometimes with no more contact than a text message from the patient,” US Attorney Craig 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.”
Prosecutors said Delagente, who also allegedly referred to himself as the “Candy Man,” began prescribed drugs like oxycodone, Percocet, Tylenol with codeine and other controlled substances in May 2014 without legitimate medical purposes.
Delagente, of Oakland, also allowed patients to request the strength and dosage of drugs he prescribed, often doling out a dangerous drug combo known as the “Holy Trinity” – comprising of opioids, benzodiazepines and muscle relaxers, prosecutors said.
“Dr. Delagente sold his ethics, his medical license and his moral compass,” FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge Gregory White said. “There is no magic elixir for the pain caused by pill mill doctors.”
Delagente also failed to monitor patients for addiction and prescribed drugs to patients that he knew were addicted, prosecutors said.
In one instance, an employee at North Jersey Family Medicine told him a patient had driven a long way to the practice but was unable to see a doctor that day.
“Oh well … C’est la vie! Lol,” Delagente replied, according to prosecutors. “He can wait for his oral heroin another day. Lol.”
Delagente, who faces up to 20 years in prison, is set to be sentenced in June. His attorney, meanwhile, told NJ.com that he “would do anything and everything” to help his clients.
“Many of his patients spoke of him with high regard,” attorney Marc Calello wrote in an email.
Delagente also pleaded guilty last year to state charges of healthcare claims fraud for $32,000 in services he never rendered, leading to the temporary suspension of his medical license, according to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.
Source : Joshua Rhett Miller Link