MINEOLA, N.Y. — A New York doctor is accused of writing prescriptions for large doses of opioids that led to the deaths of five patients.
George Blatti, 75, was indicted on five murder charges, WNBC reported. He also was charged with 11 counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree, the television station reported.
Blatti was ordered jailed until a March 30 appearance in court. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors said Blatti saw patients at a Rockville Centre hotel parking lot, a Dunkin’ Donuts shop and at an abandoned Radio Shack store he used as an office front, WNBC reported.
The victims ranged in age from their 30s to 50s, and they were battling opioid addictions or suffering from severe pain, They eventually died between 2016 and 2018, according to The Associated Press. They included a 31-year-old volunteer firefighter who struggled with opioid use for nine years, a 50-year-old woman who suffered from acute neck pain, and a 44-year-old electrician with back pain, asthma and COPD, prosecutors said.
“This doctor’s prescription pad was as lethal as any murder weapon,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas told the court. “We allege that Dr. Blatti showed depraved indifference to human life, total disregarded for the law, his ethical obligations, and the pleas of his patients and their family members when he prescribed massive quantities of dangerous drugs to victims in the throes of addiction, ultimately killing five patients who entrusted him with their care.”
The charges stem from an investigation into several opioid overdoses, which were both fatal and non-fatal, in August 2018, WNBC reported. Singas alleged that several people had a large number of prescriptions for opioids written by Blatti, the television station reported.
According to prosecutors, Blatti is a general practitioner originally licensed to practice medicine in 1976 and had no specialized training or accreditation in pain management, WNBC reported.
After losing access to office space, Blatti allegedly saw patients in his car, prescribing prescriptions for Oxycodone, Clonazepam, Percocet and other drugs without examinations, the AP reported. The doctor issued the prescriptions from the parking lot of the hotel, where he lived, and at the Dunkin’ Donuts nearby.
Blatti also billed insurance companies and accepted cash, according to WNBC. He also had a waiver to use a paper pad, allowing him to avoid an electronic prescription system that is used to flag abuses, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Blatti continued to write prescriptions even after learning some patients had died, the AP reported.
“In my nearly 30-year career as a prosecutor, I have never seen a case of such outrageous disregard for human life by a physician,” Singas told the court.