What to Know
- An NYC doctor was convicted in federal court of prescribing opioids without a legitimate medical reason and could face life in prison
- Martin Tesher, 82, was found guilty by a federal jury of unlawful distribution of oxycodone without legitimate medical purpose to 5 patients
- One of his patients died of an overdose, two days after visitng Tesher and being prescribed opioids and fentanyl, prosecutors say
An 82-year-old doctor from Manhattan was convicted in federal court of prescribing copious amounts of opioids without a legitimate medical reason, which ultimately played a part in the death of one of his patients, officials announced Wednesday.
Martin Tesher was found guilty by a federal jury in Brooklyn of 10 counts of unlawful distribution of oxycodone without legitimate medical purpose to five patients, one of whom died two days after his last visit with Tesher.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and James J. Hunt, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division, announced the verdict.
Tesher, a doctor specializing in general family care, was charged in 2017 with writing more than 14,000 prescriptions for oxycodone from 2012 to 2017 from his family medical practice. Authorities alleged the prescriptions provided more than 2.2 million pills, a high number for a doctor not specializing in pain management.
According to officials, between June 2013 and January 2017, Tesherprescribed oxycodone and fentanyl on an ongoing basis without a legitimate medical purpose to patients after he learned, or had reason to believe, those patients were addicted to drugs.
Prosecutors say that the five patients either told Tesher they were drug addicts, had previously been treated for drug addiction, or tested positive for illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin during the course of their treatment by Tesher.
While under Tesher’s care, officials say, Nicholas Benedetto, 27, tested positive for cocaine, heroin and methadone in addition to oxycodone and fentanyl. However, Tesher allegedly continued to prescribe oxycodone and fentanyl to Benedetto disregarding indicators that he was abusing those drugs.
Benedetto was found dead of a fatal combination of oxycodone and fentanyl on March 5, 2016, two days after he had been prescribed oxycodone and fentanyl patches by Tesher, according to prosecutors.
A government expert witness asserted that none of the patients for whom Tesher is charged in the superseding indictment had verified medical conditions that would require the prescription of the opioids.
“Dr. Tesher dispensed opioids to patients whom he knew were abusing illegal drugs and the tragic result was an overdose death,” United States Attorney Donoghue said in a statement. “The jury held Dr. Tesher responsible for the part he played in fueling the opioid epidemic by abandoning his responsibilities as a medical professional and for acting as a drug dealer with a prescription pad.”
Session shared similar sentiments, saying in a statement: “It is incredible but true that some medical professionals have chosen to violate their oaths and exploit our nation's drug epidemic for profit, even at the cost of human lives. This doctor knowingly took advantage of drug addicts and even contributed to the death of a young man."
Tesher could face a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison when he is sentenced.