More charges eyed in MD prescription-sale case

June 19, 2012 6:21:24 PM PDT
Prosecutors want to bring more charges against a pain-management doctor already facing prescription-sale charges after 10 of his patients died of overdoses and another killed four people in a pharmacy robbery.

A review of more than 1,200 of Dr. Stan Li's patient files shows fellow physicians and others called him numerous times with concerns about patients who had overdosed or were abusing the painkillers he prescribed them, the city special narcotics prosecutor's office said in a letter Friday asking for time to present more evidence against Li to a grand jury.

State Supreme Court Justice Michael R. Sonberg agreed Tuesday to postpone Li's trial until December. Any new charges might require a separate trial.

Li, 58, was charged in November with peddling prescriptions to addicts and drug dealers from a Queens weekend clinic where he saw as many as 120 patients a day, moonlighting from his full-time job as an anesthesiologist at a New Jersey hospital.

He has pleaded not guilty, and defense lawyer Raymond W. Belair says Li is eager to go to trial and clear his name.

"He should be able to get on with his life," Belair wrote in a May 29 letter to the judge, noting that Li has been unable to practice since his arrest.

So far, the prescription-sale and reckless endangerment charges against Li relate to one patient, a 40-year-old man who repeatedly was hospitalized for overdoses before one killed him in November 2010. But prosecutors noted when Li was charged that they were looking into possible prescription sales to other patients, including nine others who died of overdoses.

"The nature and scope of (prosecutors') investigation extend well beyond the charges underlying the original indictment against (Li) and involve scrutiny of his conduct with respect to a large number of patients," Assistant District Attorney Charlotte Fishman wrote to the judge.

One of Li's patients, David Laffer, shot and killed two employees and two customers while holding up a Long Island pharmacy for painkillers in June 2011. Laffer, who pleaded guilty, indicated at his sentencing that he had "shopped" for doctors willing to prescribe painkillers with few or no questions asked.

A prior Li lawyer said the physician had, at some point, refused to keep treating Laffer.

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