Dr. Pravin Mehta

Dr. Pravin Mehta to do two years jail time

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Published: 14 August 2017

Posted by: Cecilia W. Haskell

A former Niagara Falls doctor, Pravin Mehta, is one of the faces of the opiate epidemic. The 77 year old Amherst doctor signed tens of thousands of prescriptions over 5 years. At one time in New York State, he wrote more prescriptions than all but one other doctor. He was known as “Dr. Feel Good”, and is now going to prison for two years.
U.S. District Senior Judge William M. Skretny commented about Mehta and his role in the continuing crisis of opiate addictions. He said it was a problem and that Mehta had fed it. There were victims because of his actions, said the judge.
Mehta has reported a net worth of $13 million, and lost his license to practice medicine many years ago. He was also fined $500,000. His wife and family were watching from the courtroom gallery. The former internist tried to explain what he did, and broke down several times emotionally. He said he was disgraced and said he had intentions that were honourable, although he admitted that his conduct was not. The prosecution has been going on for five years now, and he has been known as one of the root causes of the local epidemic of opiate misuse.
Investigators first suspected that something was going on with Mehta when they noticed the long lines outside his Niagara Falls office. The patients who waited in line were those that were eager for a prescription of pain medication. Many of them were users and dealers, looking for an easy way to get hold of pills, according to the police.
Mehta admitted last year to handing out illegal pain medication from late 2007 to early 2011, which was when he was arrested. He didn’t even carry out a basic exam sometimes, and often didn’t have a proper medical reason for doing so either. Skretny made a long statement about Mehta’s conduct, referring to the growing number of overdose cases. He suggested that Mehta was partially responsible for the current crisis more than once.
Mehta admitted signing blank prescription forms and even directing a staff member to do so when he was absent, as part of his plea deal. Some staff members stole some of these prescriptions and sold them on the streets. Four employees and nine others have also been convicted in connection with this. In 2012, Mehta was charged in a 28-count federal indictment but ended up pleading guilty to a single count of conspiracy – to distribute oxycodone and other controlled substances.
The defense attorney Joel L. Daniels told the judge that Mehta was the kind of person who couldn’t turn away any person, rich or poor who came to him. He said he had done a lot of good in his life and that he had over 8,000 patients. His non-jail plea for Mehta was rejected by the judge.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Drug Task Force, the state Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, Falls police, the state Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS were involved in the investigation of Mehta’s case.

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