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Prosecutors: Queens Doctor Charged In OD Deaths; Turned 'Blind Eye' To Signs Of Addiction

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A doctor who operated a pain management clinic in Queens is facing manslaughter charges after investigators said he caused the overdose deaths of two patients.

The charges were announced in an indictment Thursday against 58-year-old Stan Li.

1010 WINS' Juliet Papa reports


The physician, who was previously accused of supplying drugs to Medford pharmacy massacre gunman David Laffer, is accused of prescribing lethal amounts of highly addictive prescription medications, including oxycodone and Xanax, to two men who overdosed.

Prosecutors said Joseph Haeg and Nicholas Rappold both died within days of receiving prescriptions given to them by Li.

Haeg, 37, received 15 prescriptions for controlled substances from Li within three months leading up to his death, prosecutors said. In the final month before he died, prosecutors said Haeg was given more than 500 pills in prescriptions written by Li.

Haeg's body was found in his East Moriches home in December, 2009.

Rappold's body was found in a parked car in Queens in 2010 where authorities found a bottle of Xanax with Li as the prescriber, authorities said.

In the five weeks before Rappold's death, Li saw him three times and prescribed the 21-year-old more than 500 pills of controlled substances, prosecutors said.

In his last visit to Li before his death, prosecutors said the he received both Xanax and oxycodone from Li. The cause of death was determined as acute intoxication by the combined effects of both drugs.

Prosecutors said Li typically saw more than 70 patients a day at his clinic in Flushing and prescribed drugs "based upon inadequate examinations, documentation and verification of patient complaints and failure to consider alternative treatments," adding Li would see up to 120 patients a day on weekends -- cash only -- and the fee was increased for larger doses, CBS 2's John Slattery reported.

"People would come in not for medical treatment, but for prescriptions," said Bridget Brennan, New York City's Special Narcotics Prosecutor.

Li's attorney, Raymond Belair disagreed.

"Not true, not true.  He charges a very reasonable fee in comparison to most pain management doctors.  He's a very reasonable guy," Belair told CBS 2's Slattery.

Prosecutors also allege that Li "turned a blind eye to obvious signs of addiction" and continued to write prescriptions.

They said he also charged fees to patients based on the number of prescriptions they requested or the quantity of pills prescribed. Investigators said some of Li's patients were seen selling the meds immediately after filling the prescriptions at a nearby pharmacy.

"Dr. Li flouted the fundamental principle in medicine: first do no harm. He jeopardized lives by repeatedly prescribing dangerous controlled substances and narcotic drugs for cash, not medical need," Brennan said.

Between January 2009 and December 2011, a total of seven of Li's patients died from prescription drug overdoses, prosecutors said. Li however is only being charged with manslaughter in connection with the deaths of Haeg and Rappold.

Authorities previously said that Li provided 24 prescriptions filled by Laffer, who later pleaded guilty to killing four people in the 2011 robbery of a pharmacy in Medford.

Laffer is serving a life sentence for murder. Laffer's wife, Melinda Brady, admitted to driving the getaway car and is serving 25 years.

In addition to two counts of manslaughter, Li faces several other charges including reckless endangerment, falsifying business records, grand larceny and 180 counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance.

If convicted of the manslaughter charge alone, Li faces up to 15 years in prison.

A judge set Li's new bail at $750,000 bond; $250,000 cash, 1010 WINS' reported.

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