Crime and Courts

NYC Doctor Gets Nearly 5 Years In Prison After Taking Bribes to Prescribe Fentanyl

The Upper East Side doctor prescribed a powerful fentanyl opioid in exchange for almost $200,000 in bribes from the drug's manufacturer, and received other gifts in the form of holiday parties and strip club visits funded by the manufacturer

the judge's stand inside a courtroom with a US flag in the background

A Manhattan doctor was sentenced to nearly five years in prison for accepting bribes and kickbacks from a manufacturer in exchange for prescribing large amounts of a potent and highly addictive painkiller.

Jeffrey Goldstein, a New Rochelle resident, previously pleaded guilty in Aug. 2019 and was sentenced Wednesday. U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said that the Upper East Side doctor prescribed Subsys, a powerful fentanyl opioid, in exchange for almost $200,000 in bribes from the drug's manufacturer, Insys Therapeutics.

"Goldstein put his own patients at risk in order to satisfy his own greed, and will now spend time in federal prison for recklessly prescribing this highly addictive and powerful opioid," said Strauss. "This sentence sends a loud and clear signal to the medical community that if you take bribes in return for prescribing, you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and risk significant prison time.”

According to the indictment against the 51-year-old, Insys pressured him to stop prescribing a competitor and switch patients back to Subsys, which he did. Aside from money, Goldstein also received otheritems and expenses from Insys.

Employees of the drug manufacturer took Goldstein and a medical partner, Todd Schlifstein, to a strip club in Manhattan where the company spent approximately $4,1000 on a private room, lap dances and alcohol for the two men. Goldstein also had Insys pay for his private medical office's annual holiday party.

Goldstein was among five New York doctors charged in 2018 with accepting bribes in the form of speaking fees to prescribe millions of dollars' worth of a fentanyl-based spray that is also a highly addictive painkiller.

Prosecutors previously said the spray made by the Arizona company is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. All five doctors had initially pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court in March 2018 to conspiracy and other charges, and all five have since either pleaded guilty or were convicted.

The doctors, four men and a woman, collected tens of thousands of dollars working for the company's "Speakers Bureau" over a four-year stretch beginning in August 2012, according to prosecutors.

The other doctors have been identified as Todd Schlifstein, Gordon Freedman, of Mount Kisco, Dialecti Voudouris, of Long Island City and Alexandru Burducea, of Little Neck. All practiced in Manhattan, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the "Speakers Bureau" was created with the purported intent to educate other practitioners about the fentanyl spray, but it was used instead to induce doctors to prescribe large volumes of the spray by paying them speaker program fees. Goldstein was the fifth-highest-paid Insys speaker in the country and one of the highest subscribers of Subsys, according to the indictment, accounting for more than $800,000 in sales in the last quarter of 2014.

They said that although speakers were supposed to conduct slide presentations, the events often became mostly social affairs with no educational presentation about the spray.

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