NEW YORK – In another, disturbing example of medical professionals putting killer drugs on the streets for profit, the one-time, chief pharmacist at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan admitted Wednesday to stealing 200,000 oxycodone pills from the hospital.
Anthony D’Alessandro of Staten Island pleaded guilty in Manhattan Supreme Court, under an agreement with the Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor, Bridget Brennan.
D’Alessandro was immediately remanded to jail by Judge Bonnie G. Wittner, pending his sentencing on July 23rd.
He forfeited his pharmaceutical license last month.
He’s expected to get a sentence of five years in prison.
D’Alessandro was responsible for overseeing all of the medication stocked and dispensed at Beth Israel, located at First Avenue and 16th Street, on the east side of Manhattan.
After the parent company of Beth Israel, Continuum Health Partners, merged with Mount Sinai Medical Center, the new health care system received an anonymous letter about D’Alessandro and large-scale theft of medication.
An internal audit and criminal investigation found that between January 2009 and April 2014, D’Alessandro used his position to steal oxycodone pills on at least 218, separate dates.
The pills cost the hospital $212,727 but they were worth $5.6 million dollars on the black market.
D’Alessandro’s crimes started during a time when addiction to prescription painkillers—specifically oxycodone—was exploding in parts of New York City, especially his hometown of Staten Island.
An oxycodone pill or Percocet could sell for $30 to $80 apiece on the street.
The highly-addictive opioids spawned a crisis among the young–in particular, on Staten Island and Long Island.
Because the pills were so costly, many addicts turned to heroin (an opiate) to get a similar high at a much cheaper cost.
Thus, a new drug epidemic was born.
Brennan’s office said D’Alessandro covered up his theft by making false entries into the hospital’s electronic inventory system for narcotics.
He made it look like the medication was being sent to the research pharmacy within the hospital, which he supervised.
Instead, he diverted the powerful painkillers to other sources.
PIX11 Investigates has been steadily reporting on the growing group of doctors and pharmacists getting busted for stealing, or selling, painkillers and prescriptions for painkillers.
Since 2011, more than 60 health care professionals have been arrested and/or sentenced in New York State.
One anesthesiologist was sent to state prison for 10 2/3 to 20 years on a manslaughter conviction, after two of his patients fatally overdosed.