Bronx Physician Caught Selling Prescriptions For Cash

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that an undercover investigation by his Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) has resulted in the arrest of Dr. Frank J. Appelgate, a Bronx physician, for selling drug prescriptions for cash payments ranging from $60 to $150. Dr. Appelgate has also been charged with tampering with a witness and the criminal sale of a narcotic preparation.

Dr. Appelgate was arrested at his medical office on East 189th Street this morning. He will be arraigned later today in Bronx Criminal Court on eleven counts of Criminal Sale of a Prescription for a Controlled Substance, one count of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Fourth Degree, and one count of Tampering with a Witness in the Fourth Degree. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Spitzer said, "The authority to write prescriptions is a powerful tool, one entrusted to physicians to protect the health and safety of their patients. By selling prescriptions for cash, the defendant acted as nothing more than a drug dealer armed with a prescription pad and needlessly put the public at risk. My Medicaid Fraud Control Unit will continue to aggressively ferret out such criminal activity."

Acting on information received by the MFCU, undercover agents posing as Medicaid recipients visited Dr. Appelgate's office on various occasions between January 1999 and May 2000. During the visits, Dr. Appelgate sold prescriptions for Percocet, Valium, Xanax, Vicodin-ES, Vicoprofen, and APAP #4 (Tylenol with Codeine) to the MFCU agents. In one instance, Dr. Appelgate told an undercover agent he could no longer provide any prescriptions because the authorities were "watching" him. Instead, Dr. Appelgate sold the agent 100 Tylenol with Codeine pills for $100

Dr. Appelgate is also accused of tampering with a witness based on an incident in which an undercover agent returned to his office with a grand jury subpoena and said that the authorities wanted to know where he was getting the prescriptions and why. Dr. Appelgate instructed the agent to say he had back pain. Dr. Appelgate then wrote out a prescription for x-rays to be taken and told him to have the x-rays taken at a hospital.

Dr. Appelgate, 47, lives at 276 Parkside Drive in Suffern, New York. His office is located at 601 East 189 Street in the Bronx.

Spitzer noted that this was the second arrest by his MFCU of a New York City physician selling prescriptions for cash in the last week. Last Thursday, Dr. Aleksandr Khaysman, a Brooklyn psychiatrist, was arrested at his Ocean Parkway office and charged with nine counts of Criminal Sale of a Prescription for a Controlled Substance.

Both cases are being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Robert Dublirer, Deputy Director of the New York City Regional Office of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. All cases are handled under the direct supervision of Deputy Attorney General Jos?? Maldonado.

The charges against Dr. Appelgate are accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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