Pill Bottles Beside the Dead Shared a Doctor’s Name

Henrietta Strickland
June 9, 2018

But a criminal investigation did not begin, authorities said, until the Pennsylvania attorney general's office became suspicious of prescriptions being filled at pharmacies in that state issued in Dr. Choy's name.

Anthony M. DeStefano has been a reporter for Newsday since 1986 and covers law enforcement, criminal justice and legal affairs from its New York City offices.

Three of the patients died of prescription overdoses.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and New York City's special narcotics prosecutor announced manslaughter and other charges against Lawrence Choy on Thursday.

Choy also faces charges of reckless endangerment for the death of another patient, Daniel Barry, and eight living patients.

Choy was arrested in March in Wisconsin and extradited to NY.

Ries, who died in 2014, was involved in multiple vehicle accidents and suffered multiple overdoses where he had to be revived by emergency responders, according to investigators.

He was determined by the medical examiners to have overdosed on "the holy trinity" of medications - oxycodone, alprazolam, and carisoprodol.

He is charged with giving out illegal prescriptions to 14 patients and allegedly writing over 100 prescriptions for oxycontin in a single month. A licensed physician since 1981, Choy specialized in internal medicine and nephrology (the treatment of diseased kidneys) and operated a full-time medical office at 142-20 Franklin Avenue in Flushing. They say this shift coincided with the filing of tax warrants against Choy for more than $1 million in taxes owed.

Authorities say Castillo and Ries were prescribed high doses of oxycodone, which is a potent and addictive opioid painkiller, and Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication. The criminal investigation was triggered when the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office became aware that suspicious prescriptions issued in Choy's name were being filled at pharmacies in that state and then contacted law enforcement partners in NY.

Dr. Lawrence Choy, 65, was scheduled to appear in Manhattan Supreme Court on Thursday for an arraignment.

Choy is also alleged to have prescribed Castillo Percocet in addition to his other regimen. Medical literature explains that this combination, dubbed "the holy trinity", is known to be favored by individuals suffering from substance abuse and by those seeking to resell pills on the black market.

"All three drugs have the effect of suppressing respiration and heartbeat, when take together, the risk overdose death is much higher", Brennan said.

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