A New York physician has been accused of causing the deaths of two patients by prescribing massive amounts of painkillers, according to an updated indictment unsealed Friday in federal court.
Dr. William Conway, 69, was expected to be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Central Islip sometime next week on the latest charges, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said. Conway has been in custody since June on charges of illegally distributing painkillers; he has pleaded not guilty.
Conway's office assistant, 67-year-old Robert Hachemeister, was added as a defendant in the case in the revised indictment. He was charged with conspiracy and distribution of oxycodone. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Friday and was released on $150,000 bail. Court-appointed attorney Anthony LaPinta declined to comment, other than to say he was still investigating the allegations facing his client.
The latest charges accuse Conway, who has an office in Baldwin, with causing the deaths of two Long Island men who were given prescriptions for oxycodone.
In April 2011, one man died of an overdose of oxycodone less than 48 hours after receiving two prescriptions totaling 450 pills. In October 2011, another man died of an overdose of oxycodone and other narcotics two days after Conway provided him with a prescription for 180 oxycodone pills, according to the indictment.
Conway's attorney, Richard Langone, said the charges accusing him in the men's deaths were filed because his client has refused to plead guilty to the earlier drug distribution accusations. He also said Conway's assistant was arrested to pressure him to cooperate in their prosecution against his client.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment on Langone's allegations.
Prosecutors also contend that after one of the patients died, Conway attempted to alter various patient files.
In their prior indictment, Conway was charged with issuing 5,554 oxycodone prescriptions — 782,032 pills — between January 2009 and November 2011. Prosecutors said Conway knew some of the patients were addicted to drugs and failed to perform a "meaningful medical examination" before issuing the prescriptions.
Hachemeister, of Baldwin, who has worked for Conway for about 17 years, has no medical or nursing degree. The indictment accuses of him of distributing thousands of oxycodone pills using prescription pads that were pre-signed by Conway.
Conway faces up to life in prison if convicted of causing the patient deaths. Hachemeister faces up to 20 years if convicted.