STATEN ISLAND — Matthew Pinto's 24-year-old sister overdosed on Monday, the second time since she returned from a three month rehab stay in Florida.
Pinto immediately called PIX11 because we'd been trying for three weeks to find the elderly doctor who was writing the young woman's prescriptions for powerful opioid Oxycodone and other controlled drugs.
We finally found 79-year-old psychiatrist, Anthony Pietropinto on Monday evening as he walked — stooped and slowly — to his new business address on Lafayette Street in the West Village.
When we approached Dr. Pietropinto and asked about the prescriptions for Oxycodon, Xanax and Adderrall that he'd given to Matt Pinto's sister, he acknowledged writing them and added "We have an MRI on file."
That MRI was Dr. Pietropinto's rationale for giving the young woman strong drugs. Opioids are supposed to treat pain. We are not naming the woman at the family's request.
"I know Adderrall is a drug used for ADHD," Matt Pinto observed. "My sister doesn't have ADHD."
Dr. Pietropinto — a psychiatrist with a degree from Columbia University — told PIX11 he didn't know the woman had been in rehab. He prescribed drugs in May, June, July and September for Matt Pinto's sister, according to prescription slips and bottles that Pinto found after his sister went to the hospital. The sister filled prescriptions at different pharmacies to avoid red flags being raised.
"It made me very upset and very angry," Pinto told PIX11 at the funeral home he runs in Brooklyn.
"What stood out to me was the amount of pills he was prescribing! 180 pills of Oxycodone!"
Pinto said his sister began using painkillers about two years ago — around the time she started dating a new boyfriend. Last year, the woman's 6-year-old daughter was removed from her mother's care.
"She was working four jobs to support her daughter, an excellent mother," Matthew Pinto said. "She became totally irresponsible, sleeping all day."
Matthew Pinto asked PIX11 to track down the doctor who was prescribing his sister pills. It was not an easy task.
First, we tried a community counseling center in Brooklyn where Dr. Pietropinto once served as medical director. A man in a business suit demanded that we leave.
Then we showed up at a doctor's office located at 80 Fifth Avenue, the address Dr. Pietropinto was using in the prescriptions he wrote for Matthew Pinto's sister.
"He's not in this office anymore. We kicked him out," a member of the medical staff said excitedly at the reception desk. "He hasn't been here the whole year," the woman said. "You have to get out of the office! It's against HIPPA!"
We tried to meet up with Dr. Pietropinto two times at his apartment building near Washington Square Park. We finally found him at a business address he started using three weeks ago.
"I am a licensed psychiatrist," Dr. Pietropinto said. "I charge people $50 a session. No other psychiatrist in New York charges $50 a session."
PIX11 learned that Dr. Pietropinto and his wife, Joy, filed for bankruptcy in 2015. Court papers said they had consumer debt.
The psychiatrist had an e-waiver number that allowed him to write prescriptions instead of sending them electronically — something that's required for most doctors so the state can keep track of opioid prescriptions on a database.
Matthew Pinto wants to stop all doctors from supplying his sister with pills.
"They're hurting people. They're hurting young people. They're hurting people's children," Pinto said.