A doctor in Long Island, N.Y, doctor was charged on Thursday with five counts of second-degree murder and 11 counts of reckless endangerment over allegations that he disregarded medical ethics and began prescribing high amounts of opioids to patients without examining them.
The Nassau County District Attorney's Office said in a news release that 75-year-old George Blatti faces the 16 new charges alongside more than 50 others stemming from his now-defunct medical work. Blatti is accused of prescribing tens of thousands of opiate pills to patients in many cases without reviewing their medical history or conducting a medical exam. He pleaded not guilty at a Thursday hearing, according to The Associated Press.
He previously operated out of a makeshift doctor's office set up in a Radio Shack before shifting to prescribing drugs out of his car in a Dunkin' Donuts parking lot, as well as out of rooms at a local hotel.
"The original indictment alleges that Blatti met customers at his Franklin Square office through 2019, and after he lost access to that space, saw patients in his car, prescribing medications with no examination from the parking lots of the Rockville Centre hotel where he lived and a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts," reads the prosecutor's news release.
In a statement, the district attorney accused Blatti of showing "wanton disregard for human life" by carelessly prescribing opiates to people with histories of addiction.
“This doctor’s prescription pad was as lethal as any murder weapon,” said the district attorney, Madeline Singas. “We allege that Dr. Blatti showed depraved indifference to human life, total disregard for the law, his ethical obligations, and the pleas of his patients and their family members when he prescribed massive quantities of dangerous drugs to victims in the throes of addiction, ultimately killing five patients who entrusted him with their care."
"These indictments should send a clear message to all doctors that they will be directly held accountable for their actions as they profit from individuals that are suffering from addiction," added Patrick Ryder, the county's police commissioner.
If convicted of second-degree murder, Blatti faces up to 25 years in prison for this week's charges. He also faces dozens of others including forgery, criminal diversion of prescription medications, and criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance, following his initial arrest in 2019.