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Doctor Who Prescribed Pain Pills Is Charged with 5 Counts of Murder

Doctor Who Prescribed Pain Pills Is Charged with 5 Counts of Murder

A New York doctor is in serious criminal trouble as he faces charges relating to the death of five of his patients.

In 2019, George Blatti, a Nassau County doctor, was arrested and charged with numerous felony counts relating to the illegal sale of a controlled substance, including:

  • Criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance
  • Forgery
  • Reckless endangerment

Nassau County prosecutors allege that Mr. Blatti’s prescription practices led to the deaths of five of his patients who received tens of thousands of prescription opioids from Dr. Blatti during years of treatment.

In 2021, the Nassau County District Attorney’s (DA’s) Office added five more felony charges of murder in the second degree to their case against the former doctor.

Depraved Indifference to Human Life

These charges marked the first time that the DA’s office charged a doctor with second-degree murder using the theory of depraved indifference to human life.

A depraved indifference to human life occurs when a person recklessly engages in behavior that creates a grave risk of death for someone else who eventually dies because of that risk. Mr. Blatti pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him.

Roughly one year later, however, a Nassau County judge reduced the five homicide charges from murder in the second degree to manslaughter. The judge argues that the actions of the doctor could not sustain a second-degree murder charge and that manslaughter was more appropriate.

The Case Against Mr. Blatti

The five homicides attributed to Mr. Blatti occurred between 2016 and 2018. The victims were between the ages of 31 and 55 and were residents of Hempstead, Valley Stream, and Floral Park.

During his time treating them, Mr. Blatti saw the victims and other patients in unorthodox patient settings, including a defunct Radio Shack, a Dunkin’ Donuts, and the parking lot of a hotel where the ex-doctor resided.

Although Mr. Blatti’s actions led to only five deaths, the ex-doctor’s recklessness and criminal behavior affected many other patients.

Reckless Prescription Behavior

At issue is how Mr. Blatti prescribed prescription drugs to his patients, specifically opioid-based prescription medication. Prosecutors allege that his behavior created a significant and unjustifiable risk of death. By looking at the specific facts of the homicide victims, one can see how the state’s prosecutors arrived at this conclusion.

One of the deceased, according to the DA, received 153 prescriptions over a period of four years and one month containing over 18,000 pills, including oxycodone, alprazolam, and valproic acid. This person eventually passed away in 2018 due to the effects of these drugs working in concert with mirtazapine.

Another homicide victim was in a longtime struggle against opioids when he began seeing Mr. Blatti. After receiving nearly 80 prescriptions consisting of over 10,000 pills, this patient passed.

In this case, prosecutors claim that Mr. Blatti was aware of the victim’s deteriorated health as well as the victim’s chronic obstructive pulmonary disease when he prescribed the pills to him.

Ignoring Warnings

In addition to his own medical knowledge and experience informing him of the poor and deteriorating health of his clients, Mr. Blatti also received communications from some of his victims’ family members to that effect. Many of them pleaded with Dr. Blatti to desist from providing their loved ones with dangerous drugs.

Some of the family members even issued threats to Mr. Blatti. Insurers also sent him various warnings regarding his excessive opioid prescription habits. And New York’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct questioned the ex-doctor back in 2017 about his opioid prescriptions.

However, the ex-doctor would continue using his prescription pad to cause serious harm to numerous patients.

Discovering Mr. Blatti

In 2018, the Nassau County Police Department’s Asset Forfeiture and Intelligence Unit initiated investigations into the numerous opioid overdoses that were occurring at that time. During their investigations, the team encountered several individuals who had been prescribed opioids by the then Dr. Blatti.

The Current Status of the Case

The reduction of the second-degree murder charges to manslaughter was a big win for the defense. However, the ex-doctor still faces serious criminal liability, including time in prison and fines. He also is likely to face at least one wrongful death claim.

Know Your Rights: Consult a Medical Malpractice Attorney

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