Doctors Gave Viagra to N.Y. Mob, U.S. Says
Three doctors were charged Thursday with giving large amounts of Viagra and other anti-impotence drugs to mob members in return for construction and auto repair work done by Mafia-controlled businesses.
Arlen Fleisher, Stephen Klass and George Shapiro, all doctors in Westchester County, a suburban area north of New York, were accused of trading prescription drugs and drug samples with members and associates of the Gambino crime family. The one-count complaint was filed in Manhattan federal court.
Lawyers for the three defendants said their clients denied wrongdoing.
If convicted, the men could face a maximum 10-year prison term. They were arrested at their homes Thursday morning and released after each posted a $50,000 bond.
In addition to Viagra, the doctors are accused of giving out Cialis, Levitra and other prescription drugs that treat sexual problems. According to court papers, Gambino members used the drugs and also gave them to others. In one instance, a high-ranking member asked Klass to get him the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor for his barber, court papers said.
Federal prosecutors said no value had been publicly stated for the pharmaceuticals that were traded.
Richard Herman, a lawyer for Shapiro, told reporters Shapiro had a pristine record as a cardiologist and no criminal record.
Shapiro had been treating Gregory DePalma, who prosecutors say is a powerful captain in the Gambino family, for a heart condition, Herman said.
DePalma was indicted on racketeering charges in March along with the acting Gambino boss and other members and associates of the organized-crime family. The charges against the doctors grew out of the probe of Gambino family activities.
The complaint said that by the end of the FBI’s probe, “DePalma was running a virtual pharmacy for his associates as a result of the large quantity of prescription drugs and drug samples” that he received from the three doctors.
Shapiro “never had those drugs in the first place, so he couldn’t have given them out,” Herman said.