Nov. 19, 2010


An 83-year-old Filipino-American family practitioner pleaded not guilty to charges of selling thousands of prescriptions for the painkiller oxycodone from a makeshift medical office at the New Dorp neighborhood of his Staten Island, N.Y. home.

Dr. Felix F. Lanting, a product of the University of the Philippines, was arrested Tuesday and charged with a felony count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.

According to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., the octogenarian physician wrote a staggering 3,029 oxycodone prescriptions to various patients — an average of 15 prescriptions a day, seven days a week since April — often without examining the patients.

It says about 490 of his patients were under the age of 30.

In one instance, Lanting allegedly wrote a prescription to an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent who presented a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) even though the name and information on it didn’t match the name and information the agent provided him.

Court papers said neighbors were complaining of the comings and goings out of Laning’s Hunter Avenue home office since April.

Reports said at least 50 addicts a day trooped through the quiet neighborhood to Lanting’s office.

By September, the doctor hired three men described by an informer as “goons” and “bouncers” to guard his house after the family of a customer who suffered an overdose took an ax to his front door, court papers say.

The intruder also spray-painted the word “closed” on the house before leaving the ax behind.

However, authorities said the bouncers — all with criminal records, according to reports — recruited people to make out on the deal themselves.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents carry away some items of Dr. Felix F. Lanting at his Staten Island, N.Y. home.

According to the FBI, the bouncers had developed an elaborate arrangement for buying and selling drugs: they recruited fake patients who, upon arrival, were given $200 to hand over to the doctor for a prescription.

Then, the bouncers paid the patients $300 to fill the prescriptions at a pharmacy.

The patients then returned to give the bouncers the pills, and were paid $500 or with 50 pills.

The drugs were later resold, for $1,800 to $2,700 per prescription for 180 pills.

Outside court on Tuesday, the doctor denied the charges.

He did not enter a plea and was released on a $100,000 bond by Brooklyn Federal Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom.

Lanting declined to comment to reporters, except to say, “I didn’t sell Oxycontin.”

The judge ordered him to stop writing prescriptions for narcotics while on bail, and forbade travel.

Dr. Lanting replied: “I can’t travel. I have no energy.”

Federal agents and New York Police Department (NYPD) officers descended on Lanting’s two-story home just after 6 Tuesday morning.

Officers removed eight boxes, at least one of which had papers in it, several manila folders and a garbage bag.

Lanting’s lawyer John Orlando said the medical office will be closed and declined to comment further.

A sign on the front door reportedly reads, “closed permanently due to a family emergency.”

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Neighbors have expressed relief that their two-year ordeal finally ended.

“Now that he’s down it’s going to be much better because he really was the supplier for Staten Island,” one neighbor told “Eyewitness News.”

Lanting is reportedly affiliated with two hospitals, including Staten Island University Hospital-North.

Remember Dr. Luyao?

His case is reminiscent of the drug-dealing case that ruined the medical career of another Fil-Am doctor in Florida, Dr. Asuncion Luyao.

She was arrested in March 2002.

Luyao, now 69, of Fort Pierce, was charged with six counts of manslaughter in the overdose deaths of her patients.

Her first trial in 2004 ended in a hung jury.

She was convicted of one count of manslaughter in 2006 and sentenced to 50 years in prison, but that conviction was overturned on appeal.

She’s currently spending two years on house arrest and another 10 on probation, according to a plea agreement.

The plea allows Luyao to care for her husband, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The agreement dismisses the manslaughter charge and a racketeering charge along with all but two charges of trafficking in oxycodone.

A jury had previously acquitted Luyao of four other manslaughter charges in connection with her medical practice, which prosecutors said she used to recklessly dispense a high number of prescriptions for powerful painkillers.

Under the agreement, Luyao will be permanently barred from practicing medicine and will have to pay more that $100,000 in fines.

Luyao, a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas, is now working in her family’s grocery store, according to her lawyer.

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