MINEOLA, N.Y. - A New York doctor faces murder charges in connection with writing prescriptions for massive quantities of opioids that led to the deaths of five patients.
Dr. George Blatti, 75, showed no remorse as he walked into the courthouse in Mineola on Thursday morning. The Rockville Centre-based doctor is said to be the first to be charged with murder in New York under the theory of depraved indifference.
"This doctor's prescription pad was as lethal as any murder weapon," Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said. "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."
A grand jury indicted Blatti with murdering five patients and endangering the lives of six others. Prosecutors said Blatti, who had no expertise in pain management, wrote prescriptions for excessive amounts of opioids, in one case nine times the recommended dose, to drug-addicted patients.
Blatti saw his patients in a hotel parking lot, a Dunkin' Donuts store, and at an abandoned Radio Shack after he lost access to his office in Franklin Square, authorities said.
"They were in their 30s and 40s, struggling with their own personal demons, and looking for help," Singas said. "Instead of getting help, they basically got a death sentence."
Families who have lost loved ones as a result of Blatti's alleged prescribing practices were assured by officials justice will be served.
"I don't care if you're on the corner with a hoodie, you have a suit on, you dress like a pharmacist or doctor, we'll spend the time to hunt you down," Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. "We owe it to the victims."
The five patients noted in Thursday's indictment died between 2016 and 2018.
Blatti pleaded not guilty to five counts of second-degree murder, six counts of reckless endangerment, and more than 50 counts from an arrest back in 2019 for selling prescriptions for cash out of the trunk of his car. The 2019 case was consolidated with the one filed Thursday.
Blatti's attorney declined to comment on camera but asked the judge to set bail as he explained his client has prostate cancer and other medical complications.
But Judge Fran Ricigliano ordered him held behind bars until his next court appearance on March 30.
"As we continue to battle the epidemic of opioid abuse that has ravaged our communities," Singas said, "this prosecution sends a strong message to any doctor seeking to profit from vulnerable patients' addiction: we will hold you accountable to the greatest extent the law allows."
With The Associated Press
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(DEA File Photo)