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Harlem Doctor Indicted On Charges Of Illegally Selling Painkiller Prescriptions

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Manhattan doctor was arrested for illegally selling prescriptions for millions of dollars worth of painkillers, authorities announced on Thursday.

An 18-month-long investigation resulted in the indictment of Dr. Robert Gibbs, a licensed internal medicine physician in Harlem.

Gibbs, 75, was arraigned on charges that he supplied the head of a narcotics trafficking ring, Ronald Vaughan, with 700 prescriptions for oxycodone, amounting to 130,000 pills, according to prosecutors. In exchange for the bogus prescriptions, Vaughan paid Gibbs in cash, according to authorities.

Harlem Doctor Indicted On Charges Of Illegally Selling Painkiller Prescriptions

Vaughan, 44, of the Bronx, then sold the pills, with a street value of $7 million, on the black market, officials announced.

When officials searched Vaughan's home following his arrest on Thursday morning, they seized hundreds of prescription forms, a money counter, a stamp bearing the name of a different doctor, an imitation firearm and other evidence, prosecutors announced.

New York City's Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said that the doctor and the head of the narcotics organization raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in the scam.

"Both men lined their pockets and caused untold misery by flooding our streets with deadly painkillers. Today marks the end of their poisonous partnership," Brennan said.

WEB EXTRASpecial Narcotics Prosecutor's Statement On Arrests (pdf)

Law enforcement officials said Gibbs has written prescriptions for more than 1 million pills of oxycodone since January 2008. In one case, prosecutors said, Gibbs wrote a prescription in the name of a dead woman.

According to authorities, the NYPD first became aware of the illegal prescription scheme in 2011 following complaints about illegal prescription drug transactions taking place outside an Upper East Side pharmacy.

In July and August of that year, detectives made a total of eight arrests during three incidents in the vicinity of the pharmacy, which was one of several pharmacies frequented by runners. At the time of those arrests, police seized records and other evidence related to the prescription drug diversion scheme.

"The explosion in the illicit trafficking of oxycodone has produced addiction, violence, and, as this case demonstrates, corruption of the medical profession," NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Both defendants pleaded not guilty at their arraignment. Bail was set at $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond for Vaughan and $50,000 cash or bond for Gibbs, prosecutors announced.

The arrests and indictments came from a joint investigation involving the NYPD, the state health department, the DEA and other agencies.

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