Manhattan Physician Charged with Over-prescribing Opioids to Addicts
Dr. Martin Tesher of Manhattan has been charged for unlawfully prescribing oxycodone and fentanyl without a legitimate medical purpose to Nicholas Bendetto, who died of an overdose on Staten Island on March 5, 2016. Dr. Tesher was previously arrested in June 2017 for writing oxycodone prescriptions to numerous addicted patients.
As alleged in the initial complaint against the physician, Dr. Tesher operates a family medical practice in Manhattan and in the five-year span between June 2012 and January 2017, he wrote more than 14,000 prescriptions for oxycodone, totaling over 2.2 million oxycodone pills. Dr. Tesher does not have any specialized training in pain management, and in one case, on a patient’s first visit, Tesher prescribed the patient 15 oxycodone pills a day without checking that the patient had any legitimate injury.
Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde said following the investigation, “As alleged, instead of providing his opioid-addicted patients with medically appropriate and lawful care, Dr. Tesher quite literally fed their addiction, and, in this case, his actions resulted in the death of a patient. This Office and our partners at the DEA will continue to hold medical professionals accountable to the fullest extent of the law whenever they abrogate their duties and contribute to the opioid crisis.”
DEA Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt added, “Dr. Tesher acted no differently than a multi-million dollar heroin ring, distributing more than $20 million worth of opioids. In fact, by using his position as a family practitioner, he enabled patients seeking help for substance abuse and turned new patients into opioid addicts by writing unnecessary prescriptions in exchange for cash. Law enforcement has no tolerance for rogue doctors, their medical staff or opioid traffickers, and we are committed to dismantling drug trafficking organizations, be it operating out of a family practitioner’s office or a heroin mill.”
Dr. Tesher was initially authorized by the DEA to treat up to 30 drug-addicted patients by prescribing them Schedule III, IV or V narcotics to ease their addiction. However, according to investigators, instead of following procedure and referring addicts to drug rehabilitation centers or prescribing them the drugs as authorized, Dr. Tesher simply continued to feed their addictions by prescribing patients with Schedule II opioids.
While under his care, many of Dr. Tesher’s patients tested positive for drugs such as cocaine, heroin, morphine or methadone. However, after being made fully aware of this, the doctor continued to prescribe those patients with Schedule II narcotics and he did so despite the fact that the prescriptions could be lethal on their own or in combination with the other drugs.
According to court documents, Benedetto was one of the physician’s patients who tested positive for cocaine, heroin, morphine and methadone, in addition to the oxycodone and fentanyl. Dr. Tesher allegedly continued to prescribe Schedule II narcotics to Benedetto despite this fact. Benedetto died of a drug overdose two days after he had been prescribed both oxycodone and fentanyl patches by Dr. Tesher. If convicted of all charges, Dr. Tesher will face a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.