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Authorities: Doctor Ran Illegal Pill Mill Out Of Manhattan Office

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- An Upper West Side doctor who allegedly traded tens of thousands of illegal painkiller prescriptions for cash was arrested Tuesday, along with his wife.

Over a span of 6 1/2 years, Dr. Rogelio Lucas, 77, wrote out 23,600 oxycodone prescriptions, with a street value of $77 million, to patients with no medical need for the pills, said Bridget Brennan, the city's special narcotics prosecutor. He is charged along with his wife Lydia, 79.

The couple is being held on a total of $1 million in the alleged pill mill operation, CBS2's Valerie Castro reported.

"Dr. Lucas is charged with being one of the city's most prolific illegal prescribers of the black market's favorite pill -- 30 mg oxycodone," Brennan said in a news release. "Instead of healing, doctors who routinely sign orders for unneeded narcotic drugs endanger the health and welfare of the public. Corrupt doctors who exchange prescriptions for cash have stoked the epidemic of addiction gripping our region."

Authorities: Upper West Side Doctor Sold Illegal Oxycodone Prescriptions

Investigators believe Dr. Lucas was supplying multiple drug rings with oxycodone, WCBS 880's Irene Cornell reported. Prosecutors said he routinely wrote prescriptions to drug runners.

Lydia Lucas, 79, who served as the office manager of the medical practice in the building at 215-17 W. 101st St., at Broadway, was arrested for allegedly taking the cash in return for prescriptions, authorities said. Their arrests followed a long-term, multi-agency investigation.

A man who did not want to be identified, and who lives in the building where Dr. Lucas has his practice, talked with CBS2's Castro about the allegations.

"I was surprised," the man said. "I had no idea that he had been arrested, but I'm not shocked. He is a corrupt drug dealer with a medical license."

The couple has a West Side apartment and a home in Scarsdale, where investigators seized $600,000 cash, authorities said.

The couple has eight children. One son was with them in court Tuesday, but left without comment.

The couple's defense attorney said the bail set by the judge is not suitable for the elderly man and his wife.

"To now say that these septuagenarians have to put up a million dollars bail after all their assets have been seized, in order for society to be safe from them, is ridiculous," said attorney Liam Malanaphy.

Lucas and his wife are each charged with 37 counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy.

The indictment charges them in connection with 37 alleged illegal prescriptions, but authorities believe Lucas wrote prescriptions to 45 to 50 people per day.

"This doctor allegedly abused his position as a medical professional, profiting from the sale of prescriptions while fueling the supply of a highly addictive painkiller that has led to numerous overdose deaths," NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said in the news release. "Thanks to the efforts of the investigators involved in this case and our law enforcement partners, this organization will no longer distribute these pills into our communities."

Prosecutors said the couple also has homes in Hawaii and Florida, and are currently building on property in the Philippines – making them a flight risk. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Bonnie Wittner also ordered them to turn in their passports.

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