Amagansett Doctor Charged In Prescription Drug Trafficking Scam

NEW YORK, NY (March 14, 2007) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that an Amagansett physician has been charged with writing hundreds of illegal prescriptions for patients from the Bronx and Manhattan, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in medically unnecessary Medicaid billings.

The doctor, Michael Chait, M.D., 46, wrote prescriptions that put huge quantities of highly addictive and dangerous painkillers worth millions of dollars on the black market. Chait was arrested for unlawfully selling unnecessary narcotic prescriptions – including OxyContin, a synthetic form of morphine, and Dilaudid – to Medicaid recipients who traveled from New York City to his practice in the Town of East Hampton on the eastern end of Long Island.

Between January 1 and March 7, 2007, Chait saw up to 50 patients per day, many of whom were Medicaid recipients from New York City who were driven to his office to pay cash for the prescriptions. Once purchased, patients would return and use their Medicaid cards to obtain the controlled medications from pharmacies in the Bronx and Manhattan.

“This was a case of physician-assisted drug dealing. A doctor-turned-dealer poisoning our citizens for profit and violating that most basic of medical oaths: do no harm,” Attorney General Cuomo said. “There couldn’t be a more reprehensible abuse of Medicaid than using taxpayer dollars to subsidize the black market for prescription drugs.”

Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge John P. Gilbride said, “Throughout the five boroughs of New York City and Long Island, this individual was the ultimate stop for ‘doctor shoppers.’ Hundreds of fraudulent prescriptions were written that were not based on medical evaluations. With the escalation of pharmaceutical drug abuse, it is the DEA’s responsibility to monitor prescriptions and ensure that legitimate pharmaceuticals are not diverted for illegitimate abuse.”

Chait, who maintained a medical practice at 524 Montauk Highway, Amagansett, was charged in a felony complaint filed in East Hampton Town Justice Court. He is charged with: Conspiracy in the Second Degree (class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison); Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree (class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison); Grand Larceny in the Second Degree and six counts of Criminal Sale of a Prescription for a Controlled Substance (both class C felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison).

The ongoing investigation is being conducted jointly by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for New York City, the New York State Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Drug Diversion Unit and New York City’s Human Resources Administration’s Bureau of Fraud Investigations. The arrest was assisted by Suffolk County’s East End Drug Task Force and the East Hampton Town Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Robert J. Goldstein and Section Chief Monica J. Hickey-Martin of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Chait was arraigned this morning before East Hampton Town Justice Lisa Rana and jailed in lieu of $500,000 cash bail.

The charges against the defendant are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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