Staten Island Doctor Pleads Guilty to Running Pill Mill in Exchange for Sexual Favors for Years
Joseph Santiamo, 65, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone with no legitimate reason at his medical practice, which focused on internal medicine and geriatric care.
A Staten Island doctor fessed up to a scheme he pulled by soliciting sexual favors in exchange for opioid prescriptions dating back to 2012, according to federal authorities. Joseph Santiamo, 65, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone to patients with no legitimate reason at his medical practice, which focused on internal medicine and geriatric care, according to a federal complaint filed in New Jersey.
Santiamo "knowingly prescribed" dangerous quantities of oxycodone and "solicited sexual favors from certain patients who were struggling with substance abuse" in exchange for medical prescriptions, U.S. Attorney Carpenito wrote in a statement.
The salacious doctor, who was a licensed physician in New York since 1984, ran his practice from 2012 to 2018, but on the side ran a pill mill with a particular interest in his younger patients who were under the age of 40, court documents revealed.
"Many of these patients were dealing with pain and addiction, and instead of getting help from their doctor, they were drawn deeper into the cycle of drug abuse," Carpenito wrote.
The Drug Enforcement Administration started looking into the doctor in 2017 after discovering patients were traveling long distances for narcotic prescriptions, according to court papers.
One patient was handed approximately 57 prescriptions totaling over 9,000 tablets, while another patient was prescribed 59 prescriptions totaling 14,000 tablets, despite medical records indicating neither patient required the medication, court records said.
New York Magazine named Santiamo one of the "Top Doctors of New York" in 1997, 1999 and 2000, the Staten Island Advance previously reported.
Santiamo entered his plea before the U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp on a videoconference Wednesday.
He could face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. His sentencing is scheduled to occur in April 2021, court records show.
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