Since its creation in 2011, SNP’s Prescription Drug Investigation Unit (PDIU) has targeted large-scale pill mills, pharmaceutical drug trafficking rings and corrupt medical practitioners who sell prescriptions for highly addictive pills in exchange for cash. Our investigations have uncovered a wide array of criminal schemes that share a common goal: to turn a profit from illegally prescribed drugs. Significantly, the office has obtained the convictions of two doctors on manslaughter charges in connection with separate investigations involving patients’ deaths.
As a result of these efforts, combined with improved education for doctors, increased public awareness and more effective regulatory systems, the black-market supply of diverted prescription drugs in New York City has been reduced. One of the most impactful regulatory changes was the implementation of mandatory electronic prescribing, which is far easier to track that paper prescriptions. Given the amount of money to be made from illegal pill sales, it is no surprise that some unscrupulous medical practitioners seek out ways to circumvent these important new regulations. Two investigations in 2020 focused on doctors who allegedly attempted to do just that.
One of these cases involved long-term wiretap investigation, conducted with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. Dr. Lajos Lamperth, owner of a pain management clinic in Gravesend, Brooklyn, allegedly conspired with two employees to issue prescriptions for narcotics and other controlled substances at the clinic when he was not present. These two individuals, a married couple, are not themselves licensed medical professionals and were therefore unauthorized to issue prescriptions or make any determinations regarding the medical needs of patients.
A criminal complaint charges that Dr. Lamperth, who also worked as an anesthesiologist at a Brooklyn hospital, was frequently present at the hospital or elsewhere on days that the clinic issued prescriptions in his name. Indeed, Dr. Lamperth allegedly was attending a conference in Colorado when numerous prescriptions were issued using the clinic’s account. The clinic allegedly filed thousands of dollars in claims with Medicaid and Medicare for numerous medical visits that did not occur. In order to skirt laws governing electronic prescribing, Dr. Lamperth allegedly allowed one employee’s cellphone to serve as the “hard token” for two-factor authentication for the clinic’s electronic prescribing activities, which is illegal. Phone records show patients also allegedly contacted the employee directly to renew prescriptions.
As described at Dr. Lamperth’s arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court, three of the doctor’s patients died due to drug overdose within days of getting a prescription from the clinic and had other illicit substances in their system. The investigation was abruptly cut short when intercepted communications suggested the defendants were planning to commit acts of violence against two individuals, as alleged in court. Dr. Lamperth faces 42 counts, including Criminal Sale of a Prescription for a Controlled Substance. Dr. Lamperth voluntarily surrendered his DEA registration and is not permitted to issue prescriptions for controlled substances.
Over the past decade, the Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor and its partners, including the DEA New York Division, the New York City Police Department and the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, have successfully investigated and prosecuted several doctors linked to illegal prescribing of addictive narcotics that ultimately led to overdose deaths.