New York Doctor Gets 20 Years and Must Pay $880,000 in Restitution for Illegal Prescriptions that Resulted in Death

A New York City dermatologist has been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska to 20 years in prison sentence and to pay over $880,000 in restitution to defrauded insurance companies after being convicted for unlawfully distributing prescription narcotics and for health care fraud.

The doctor, David Wexler, 61, was found guilty on 17 counts including a finding that the conspiracy to distribute prescription narcotics caused the death of a man named Barry Abler due to a drug overdose. Abler had been part of the conspiracy.

The scam was a simple one indeed. Wexler would claim that he performed surgeries on Abler and other cooperative patients and then collect reimbursement from Medicare or unsuspecting insurance companies. In exchange for their participation in the fraud, patients were given kickbacks. Abler was given prescriptions for various narcotics and also paid some $700 per month.

Wexler’s greed, however, apparently knew no bounds. Between 1992 and 2002, he fraudulently billed for thousands of small surgeries (4cm excisions of skin) that were never performed. In Abler’s case, Wexler submitted almost 2,000 claims and collected more than $425,000 in reimbursements.

Amazingly, over 1,400 of these excisions were claimed to have been performed on Abler’s face. Testimony at trial, however, established that there is not enough skin on the human body to allow for even a small fraction of the excisions. All of the claims were proven to be bogus.

Abler’s fraudulent claims resulted in the payment of over $425,000 to Wexler. The narcotics prescribed to Abler included Dilaudid, Percocet, Vicodin, and Xanax as well as other addictive drugs like Carisprodol (“Soma”) a muscle relaxant. There was no reason for the prescriptions, which were in vast amounts that far exceeded all recommended dosages by hundreds, if not thousands, of times.

In addition, Wexler wrote prescriptions to other drug abusers known to Abler. Wexler never treated these people and Abler would simply sell them the prescriptions. Sometimes, these people would even visit Wexler and obtain their own prescriptions. Wexler would then bill their insurance companies for “excisions” that were never done.

Abler’s participation in the conspiracy came to an abrupt end in May 2001 when he was found dead in his apartment. An autopsy found he had died from an overdose of Dilaudid and Soma prescribed by Wexler.          

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