Former UES doctor sentenced to 20 years in prison for prescribing unnecessary opioids, causing patient to overdose

Posted at 1:35 PM, Apr 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-30 13:35:14-04

UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan — An 83-year-old former Upper East Side family doctor already busted for allegedly writing illegal prescriptions for highly-addictive painkillers has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for prescribing unnecessary oxycodone and fentanyl to a Staten Island man who fatally overdosed.

Between June 2013 and January 2017, Dr. Martin Tesher prescribed oxycodone tablets and fentanyl patches without a legitimate medical purpose to five patients after learning, or had reason to believe, that these patients were addicted to drugs.

None of these patients had verified medical conditions that would require the prescription of Schedule II opioids.

While under Tesher’s care, Nicholas Benedetto, 27, tested positive for cocaine, heroin, methadone, oxycodone and fentanyl, according to a criminal complaint.

But Tesher continued to prescribe oxycodone and fentanyl patches for Benedetto. Two days later, on March 5, 2016, Benedetto was found dead of a fatal combination of oxycodone and fentanyl.

“In the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic, Dr. Tesher used his medical skills to harm, not heal and in doing so he cost a young man his life,” stated United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue. “Such criminal conduct is an utter betrayal of the trust our society places in doctors and it warrants the severe sentence imposed today.”

Tesher has also been ordered to pay $3,700 in restitution and forfeit $2,725 in criminal proceeds. Tesher was convicted by a federal jury in July 2018 following a nearly two-week trial.

“Today’s sentence demonstrates how DEA, EDNY and their many law enforcement partners have come full circle to eliminate the threat of rogue doctors, like Tesher who posed a threat to the public health of the citizens of New York City, Staten Island, and beyond,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Donovan. “DEA and its law enforcement partners will continue to seek justice for patients like Nicholas Benedetto, as well as the countless other families and friends who have suffered greatly at the hands of this opioid epidemic.”