US District court Judge Joseph Bianco threw the book at Long Island doctor Leonard Stambler yesterday by sentencing him to 10 years behind bars for literally acting as a “drug dealer” by writing illegal prescriptions for the painkiller oxycodone. Stambler, 63, is the first doctor to stand trial following a crackdown on abuse of he drug by the DEA along with New York State Police and agents from the IRS after four people were gunned down by drug addict David Laffer during a robbery at a Medford, NY pharmacy during an early morning robbery on Father’s Day in June 2011. Stambler was arrested at his Baldwin Harbor, NY office the following November.
Although Bianco acknowledged that Dr. Stambler had “done much good with many patients,” he stated that he had intentionally lied during his trial by claiming to have acted as a compassionate provider, by continuing to write prescriptions for those suspected of selling the drug, including a couple that had “begged him not to report the crime to the police,” because they had just had a baby. For that reason, and to “send a clear message to other physicians, he sentenced the doctor to just one month less than the maximium allowed.
Stambler has asked for leniency prior to sentencing, citing his own poor health and his desire to be able to care for his two sons.
“I am very sorry for what I did,” he told the court. “I thought I was helping the patients. I got too personally involved.”
His attorney, Gary Schoer, stated that they would appeal the ruling.
Abuse of painkillers has skyrocketed on Long Island in recent years, resulting in a growing number of accidental overdoses. In February, federal agents succeeded in busting a local drug ring led by Cedric Moss of Jamaica, and Michael Taylor accused of trafficking more than 100,000 oxycodone pills worth more than $3 million, most of which were said to have been obtained through forged prescriptions.