A Franklin Square doctor allegedly sold more than six million opioid pills out of his Queens clinic for no medical reason, collecting more than $5 million in cash payments over nearly 4 years, according to an indictment unsealed by federal prosecutors on Oct. 11.
Dr. Dante Cubangbang, 50, sold twice as many oxycodone pills to patients than the next highest prescriber of the medication in New York state. The opioids were paid for through Medicare and Medicaid, leaving Cubangbang and his staff to pocket the money received from all-cash office visits, which reportedly lasted minutes and involved little to no physical examinations.
“These doctors and other health professionals should have been the first line of defense against opioid abuse,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in a release outlining the charges, “but as alleged in today’s charges, instead of caring for their patients, they were drug dealers in white coats.”
Cubangbang was charged along with John Gargan, 62, a nurse practitioner at his office, as well as employees Michael Kellerman, 52, and Loren Piquant, 37 who allegedly recruited patients to take part in the pain-pill scheme in which they laundered and divided the profits amongst themselves.
In addition to Cubangbang and members of his staff, six others in the Southern District were charged with illegally distributing oxycodone to patients, some of whom overdosed or died as a result.
“The worst villains in the fight against drug abuse are doctors whose criminal actions fuel addiction and overdoses,” James Hunt from the Drug Enforcement Agency said in the release. “As a result of separate investigations from three DEA offices, five doctors, a pharmacist, a nurse practitioner and three associates have been arrested for their role in distributing millions of unnecessary oxycodone pills.”
Cubangbang, Gargan Kellerman and Piquant were each charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Additionally, Cubangbang, Gargan and Kellerman were charged with conspiracy to commit health-care fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carry a combined sentence of 30 years in prison.