TRENTON, New Jersey — A sicko New York doctor has pleaded guilty to writing prescriptions for addicts for powerful painkillers in exchange for sexual favors.
Joseph Santiamo, 65, a geriatric medicine specialist in Staten Island, admitted he handed out scripts for thousands of pills of oxycodone to young clients who were obviously struggling with addiction, federal prosecutors in New Jersey said.
“This defendant knowingly prescribed for his patients dangerous quantities of oxycodone, and even more egregiously, solicited sexual favors from certain patients who were struggling with substance abuse in exchange for writing them additional opioid prescriptions,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said.
“Many of these patients were dealing with pain and addiction, and instead of getting help from their doctor, they were drawn deeper into the cycle of drug abuse. His admission of guilt today ensures that he will be appropriately punished for this behavior,” Carpenito added.
Santiamo admitted in court that from 2012 until 2018 he prescribed large quantities of oxycodone to patients without legitimate medical purpose.
Prosecutors said that for a number of his patients, there was no medical necessity for Santiamo to treat them with oxycodone, nor to prescribe the large quantities that he did. Santiamo also solicited sexual favors from certain of his younger patients in exchange for oxycodone prescriptions.
In some instances, Santiamo did this despite evidence that certain patients were abusing opioids, prosecutors said.
“The only difference between him and a person who deals drugs on the street is the white lab coat he wears,” said Susan Gibson, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division.
Santiamo faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine when he is sentenced in April.