Manhattan Drug Rehab Physician Arrested For Prescription Abuse

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that a Washington Heights physician, formerly affiliated with one of the city's largest drug rehabilitation programs, has been arrested for writing nearly 100 fraudulent prescriptions for highly addictive painkillers, and then using them himself.

Dr. Joel Rector, who once served as the Medical Unit Chief of the Addiction Research and Treatment Center (ARTC) in East Harlem, will be arraigned today in Manhattan Criminal Court and charged with Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.

According to prosecutors, Dr. Rector wrote prescriptions for ARTC patients and other Medicaid recipients. Then instead of giving the prescriptions to his patients, Dr. Rector filled them himself at various Manhattan pharmacies under the pretense that the patients were too sick to pick up their medication and that he would deliver the drugs to them. From December 1996 to September 1998, it is alleged that Dr. Rector filled 96 prescriptions for such controlled drugs as Vicodin ES and Percocet. As a result, the Medicaid program paid the pharmacies over $2,200 for having dispensed the medications.

Spitzer said, "The authority to write prescriptions is a powerful tool, one entrusted to physicians to protect the health and safety of their patients. In this case, the defendant not only abused that privilege but also had taxpayers footing the bill for his own addiction. My Medicaid Fraud Control Unit will continue to aggressively ferret out such criminal activity."

Spitzer thanked the State Health Department's Office of Professional Medical Conduct for referring the matter to his office.

Dr. Rector, 43, lives at 545 Edgecomb Avenue in Manhattan. He was employed at ARTC, located at 2195 Third Avenue, also in Manhattan, from June 1997 to June 1998.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney Cassandra Bethel, of the New York City Regional Office of Attorney General Spitzer's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. All cases are handled under the direct supervision of Deputy Attorney General Jos? Maldonado.

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

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