Federal prosecutors indicted a former Needham, Mass., doctor and a nurse practitioner on charges that their illegal prescription ring led to the deaths of six patients.
The U.S. Justice Dept. charged Dr. Joseph Zolot and Lisa Pliner with eight counts of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances by prescribing certain drugs for their own financial gain.
Zolot and Pliner charged $300 per initial visit and $100 to $150 for subsequent visits to individuals seeking the prescription drugs, according to the DOJ’s 24-page indictment. About 40 to 50 patients visited their practice a day, according to the court documents, meaning Zolot and Pliner’s daily take could run as high as $7,500.
The Justice Dept. said the duo prescribed methadone, oxycodone and fentanyl despite "indications that the individuals to whom the prescriptions were being provided were abusing, misusing or illegally distributing drugs," according to the indictment.
Zolot and Pliner also allegedly issued prescriptions for the drugs in "amounts and frequency" sufficient to cause their patients to become addicted, the prosecutors alleged. Those chemical dependencies resulted in "deteriorated health, overdose and death," according to the indictment.
“A license to practice medicine is not a license to deal, and that is precisely what is alleged in this indictment. The pain medications allegedly distributed by Zolot and Pliner can easily have disastrous results,” DEA special agent Steve Derr said in prepared remarks.
Federal and local authorities raided Zolot’s medical practice in 2007. His license to practice medicine was suspended soon thereafter.
If convicted, Zolot and Pliner could face life sentences. The minimum sentence is 20 years.