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NJ doctor charged with manslaughter for running a “pill mill”: prosecutors

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It’s a first–a doctor hit with two counts of manslaughter for prescribing thousands of pain killing pills.  Dr. Stan Li has been under investigation for raking in $450,000 in cash running a one day a week pill pushing clinic.  What’s more–they say he’s the man who fueled the killer responsible for the Long Island Father’s Day massacre at a Medford pharmacy.

Prosecutors hit him with a 219 count indictment Thursday and $750,000 bail.  The doctor pleaded not guilty to the charges.

STanLi

Prosecutors hit Stan Li with a 219 count indictment Thursday and $750,000 bail.

$50 dollars cash was all it took to get a killer supply of pain meds charge prosecutors. $50 for a toxic cocktail of painkillers at Dr. Stan Li’s Flushing pain management clinic, where people lined up for hours each Saturday to be seen for minutes and walk out with a fistful of prescriptions.

In the end, say prosecutors, 20 people died:  16 from overdoses from Dr. Stan Li’s prescriptions, another four from the bullets fired by one of his patients, David Laffer, in his quest for 1000’s of pills during a Medford pharmacy robbery.

Laffer

Stan Li sold drugs to David Laffer (pictured) who was sentenced to life in prison for killing four while robbing a pharmacy

Bridget Brennan, a Special Narcotics Prosecutor was blunt in her accusations stemming from a three year investigation.  “The practice looked like very little medicine going on and a lot of prescribing going on.  They had very short visits, the payment was in cash.”

During the week, Dr. Li was a staff anesthesiologist at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Jersey, eventually fired after his New York arrest a year ago.  But one day a week, patients waited in long lines for Li’s prescriptions at a basement office in Flushing.  “What we describe as a pill mill,” said Brennan.

But Li’s defense attorney, Ray Belair, described the doctor as a compassionate man in court, saying “If you look at the records here you see someone who cared about his patients, who said stop doing this; I’m reducing your dosages.  I want you to get off all these things and he was in some instances successful and in other instances they just went to other doctors.”

Prosecutors charge he targeted young people, giving them scrips for thousand of pills meant for cancer patients, even a pain killing patch that pharmacists questioned as it’s meant for sick cancer patients, not healthy looking teenagers.  They say Li ignored pleas from families and pharmacists to stop prescribing addictive amounts of pain meds and that when the state started investigating him, he phonied up medical records to cover his tracks for his high patient overdose rate.  They accuse him of defrauding medicare and insurance companies, while amassing a $1.2 million dollar fortune; quickly depleting those accounts as law enforcement moved in.  They even cited that he’d transferred the deed to his house to avoid forfeiture.

Brennan detailed how patients paid $50 each, in cash for their prescriptions, more if the dosage was higher or patients showed up before their 30 day dosage ran out.  “The motivation was cash.  Most of the money he received in this one day a week practice was cash, leading to making $450,000 in just three years worth of working one day a week,” said Brennan.

After raiding the doctor’s office, prosecutors say files revealed family letters and phone calls pleading that he stop prescribing, especially phetanyl patches, usually reserved for cancer patients, and many of those who overdosed under Li’s care had that as one of the drugs in their prescribed “cocktail.”

Li pleaded not guilty and his bail was set at $750,000.