Brooklyn, NY – A criminal complaint was recently unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charging medical doctor Martin Tesher with writing thousands of illegal prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances, particularly opioids such as oxycodone, without a legitimate medical purpose. Tesher was arrested in Manhattan, and his initial appearance was scheduled for the same afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom.
The charges were announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and James J. Hunt, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division.
As alleged in the complaint, the defendant operates a family medical practice in Manhattan. Between June 2012 and January 2017, Tesher wrote more than 14,000 prescriptions for oxycodone, totaling over 2.2 million oxycodone pills, a disproportionately high amount for a family practitioner. Opioids, which include heroin, are highly addictive narcotics. Tesher does not have any specialized training in pain management. In some cases, Tesher indicated that he knew that certain of his patients were addicted to oxycodone, or that they were using other illicit substances such as heroin or cocaine, but continued prescribing oxycodone and other opioids to those patients anyway. In one case, on a patient’s first visit, Tesher prescribed the patient 15 oxycodone pills a day without even basic verification that the patient had any injury.
“As alleged, Dr. Tesher used his position as a doctor not to heal but to foster opioid addiction,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “This Office and our partners at the DEA will continue to hold medical professionals accountable to the fullest extent of the law whenever they abrogate their duties and contribute to the opioid crisis.”
“Dr. Tesher acted no differently than a multi-million dollar heroin ring, distributing more than $20 million worth of opioids,” stated DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Hunt. “In fact, by using his position as a family practitioner, he enabled patients seeking help for substance abuse and turned new patients into opioid addicts by writing unnecessary prescriptions in exchange for cash. Law enforcement has no tolerance for rogue doctors, their medical staff or opioid traffickers, and we are committed to dismantling drug trafficking organizations, be it operating out of a family practitioner’s office or a heroin mill.”
The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s investigation was led by the DEA’s Long Island Tactical Diversion Squad, which is comprised of agents and officers of the DEA, Internal Revenue Service, Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), Suffolk County Police Department, Port Washington Police Department, and Rockville Centre Police Department. The DEA Tactical Diversion Squad also worked in conjunction with officers and agents of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), Criminal Enterprise Investigations, the Department of Health & Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, New York City Department of Investigation, and NCPD’s Asset Forfeiture and Intelligence Bureau.
This case is the latest in a series of federal prosecutions by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York as part of the Prescription Drug Initiative. In January 2012, this Office and the DEA, in conjunction with the five District Attorneys in this district, the Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments, the New York City Police Department, and New York State Police, along with other key federal, state, and local government partners, launched the Initiative to mount a comprehensive response to what the United States Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called an epidemic increase in the abuse of so-called opioid analgesics. To date, the Initiative has brought over 160 federal and local criminal prosecutions, including the prosecution of 19 health care professionals, taken civil enforcement actions against a hospital, a pharmacy, and pharmacy chain, removed prescription authority from numerous rogue doctors, and expanded information-sharing among enforcement agencies to better target and pursue drug traffickers. The Initiative also is involved in an extensive community outreach program to address the abuse of pharmaceuticals.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Section. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer M. Sasso is in charge of the prosecution.