ROCKVILLE CENTRE, Long Island (WABC) -- In a first of its kind case in New York, a Long Island doctor has been charged with murder for prescription practices that led to the deaths of five patients between 2016 and 2018.
Dr. George Blatti ignored repeated warnings and prescribed "massive quantities of opioids" and other drugs that killed five patients and endangered the lives of six others, prosecutors said.
Blatti is the first doctor charged in New York with second-degree murder under the theory of depraved indifference to human life.
"This doctor's prescription pad was as lethal as any murder weapon," Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said. "We allege that Dr. Blatti recklessly disregarded the law, his ethical obligations as a doctor, and the pleas of his patients' family members and prescribed massive quantities of dangerous drugs to victims in the throes of addiction, ultimately killing five patients who entrusted him with their care."
Each time, Blatti prescribed the opioids to the victims just days before their death.
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He allegedly ignore underlying medical conditions, obvious signs of drug abuse, pleas from patients' family members over prescribing so many pills, CDC warnings not to give so many pills together, and the office of professional medical conduct.
Prosecutors also say that even after the first three patient deaths, all at ages far too young to die of medical causes, Blatti failed to change his prescription practices and continued to write prescriptions that served no legitimate medical purpose.
"This defendant did not care whether his patients lived or died," the prosecutor said.
He pleaded not guilty. If convicted of the top charge, he faces a potential maximum of up to 25 years to life in prison.
Blatti, 75, was previously arrested in 2019 and arraigned Thursday on the new depraved indifference murder counts as well as reckless endangerment counts.
Investigators from the Nassau County Police Department tied a number of 2018 overdoses to "an inordinate number of prescriptions for opioids written by the same physician, Dr. Blatti.
He was a general practitioner with no specialized training or accreditation in pain management, and he maintained an office in a Franklin Square location that was formerly a Radio Shack.
The business still had a Radio Shack sign and merchandise racks on the walls.
Prosecutors said Blatti also met customers in a hotel parking lot and a Dunkin' Donuts in Rockville Centre, and that addicts went to him with their requests for controlled medications. He allegedly prescribed drugs with no medical history review or exam, in exchange for cash.
In some cases, he allegedly prescribed opioid painkillers at patients' request to individuals with whom he had never met or spoken.
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The District Attorney's Office said he prescribed more than 1.8 million doses of addictive opioids over a five-year period.
Blatti voluntarily surrendered his medical license to authorities after his arrest.
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Long Island doctor facing murder charges for opioid overdose deaths