NEW YORK (AP/1010 WINS) -- A Harlem doctor once known for her work with drug addicts was accused on Thursday of writing phony prescriptions for about 11,000 painkiller pills that were bought with Medicaid benefits and then peddled on the street.
Diana Williamson, 54, and eight other defendants were charged in a federal complaint with conspiracy to distribute narcotics. She and three others also were charged with defrauding Medicaid out of nearly $1 million since last fall.
Authorities said the ring mostly dealt in oxycodone -- a highly addictive pain medication that is often sold on the black market for $20 to $40 per pill as a substitute for heroin and other illegal drugs.
"A doctor who commits Medicaid fraud by writing illicit prescriptions violates the law -- and the physician's oath to do no harm," Janice Fedarcyk, head of the FBI's New York office, said in a statement.
At a brief hearing in federal court Thursday in Manhattan, Williamson was released on $250,000 bond without entering a plea. She and her attorney declined comment as they left court.
In 1998, Williamson made Crain's New York Business magazine's list of professionals under age 40 who were on the rise. It cited her work with addicts and prisoners with AIDs. The magazine listed her age as 39.
"My thing is, don't look down on drug users; don't judge them," she said at the time. "They deserve care."
The complaint alleges that earlier this year an undercover agent paid Williamson $1,500 for a prescription for 120 pills with the brand name Oxycontin. Other undercover agents met with her co-conspirators inside cars and restaurants in the Bronx to exchange cash for pills, the court papers say.
Authorities say one of the defendants also was under investigation in a separate child pornography case. When agents in that investigation searched his mother's home in May, they found a gun and several bottles of Oxycontin prescribed by Williamson, the complaint says.
The defendants were to appear later Thursday in federal court in Manhattan. The name of Williamson's attorney was not immediately available.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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