Doctor gets six years for unlawfully distributing opioids

A New Jersey doctor has been sentenced to six years in prison for distributing opioids to patients without a legitimate reason, and falsifying records to cover up the scam.

Robert Delagente (48) of Oakland pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled dangerous substances, distribution of controlled dangerous substances, and falsifying medical records.

Starting in 2014, Delagente - who authorities say referred to himself as "Candy Man" and the "El Chapo of Opioids" - prescribed controlled drugs like oxycodone, Percocet, and Tylenol with codeine and various benzodiazepines to patients, without cause, while working at North Jersey Family Medicine in Oakland.

A Department of Justice statement notes that Delagente "ignored the inherent danger and medical risk of overdose, drug abuse, and death that can accompany prescriptions of highly addictive opioids, benzodiazepines, and muscle relaxers, both on their own and in combination with one another."

He was also was charged with altering medical records of patients who received controlled substance prescriptions from him after law enforcement officials had subpoenaed the records in late April 2019. He also didn't monitor whether his patients were becoming addicted to the painkillers.

One patient texted Delagente that the patient "probably can't stop the pk's," referring to painkillers. The patient told Delagente that he "would need a plan to stop…not cold turkey."

A few days later, when the patient was having trouble obtaining pain medication, the patient wrote to Delagente that "If I go 4 days without [painkillers] I am in huge trouble."

In response, Delagente wrote "I will leave you a short supply RX [prescription] at the front to pick up."

Delagente then wrote the patient a prescription for 120 tablets of 30-milligram oxycodone for 30 days. Delagente at one point told this patient: "I'm literally sticking my neck out and can lose my medical license or [be] arrested for what I just did."

In addition to the prison term, Judge Cecchi sentenced Delagente to three years of supervised release.

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