A prominent doctor from Valley Stream, who had an office in Franklin Square, was sentenced to four years and two months in prison last Friday for illegally writing prescriptions for 1,920 30-milligram oxycodone pills, according to U.S. Department of Justice officials.
Dr. Noel Blackman’s case was heard by U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert, who, in addition to doling out prison time, ordered Blackman to return $536,200 in illegal proceeds from the sale of the pain pills.
Blackman, 69, was among the more high-profile doctors charged in recent years with selling prescriptions for cash — he charged $300 per prescription, according to court documents. He is the former health minister of Guyana and a former executive member of the World Health Organization.
According to court filings, Blackman prescribed more than 365,000 opioid-based medications in 2015 and 2016. Blackman, who was 68 when he was arrested in February 2016, was captured as he attempted to escape on a flight to Guyana. His plane was taxiing on the runaway when authorities boarded it and arrested him. He had $30,000 stashed in his luggage.
He pleaded guilty last August.
Officials began investigating Blackman after residents who live near his office, Hope Medical of New York, at 907 Hempstead Turnpike, noticed lines of people waiting outside the office late into the night and called officials, including State Assemblyman Ed Ra, who contacted Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead.
Blackman’s sentence was announced by Bridget Rohde, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York; James Hunt, special agent-in-charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division; and Angel Melendez, special agent-in-charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New York.
After his arrest, Blackman acknowledged that he believed a number of his patients were addicted to oxycodone. He surrendered his medical license and will no longer be allowed to practice medicine in the U.S.
“Today’s sentence should send a clear message to other doctors and medical professionals that when they abandon their oaths and act as drug dealers, we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law,” Rohde said on Friday. “Blackman violated his professional oath to put his patients’ legitimate medical needs first, and instead chose to line his pockets with the proceeds of sales from oxycodone, which has ravaged communities in New York City and on Long Island.
“Together with our law enforcement partners,” Rohde continued, “we will continue to vigorously prosecute illegal prescription drug distribution.”
She thanked the DEA’s Long Island Tactical Diversion Squad — comprising agents and officers from the DEA; the Nassau County, Suffolk County, Rockville Centre and Port Washington police departments; and the Internal Revenue Service — for participating in the investigation.
“Prescribing ‘oxies’ in exchange for cash is no different than a street dealer’s hand-to-hand drug transaction,” Hunt said. “Both are illegal and fuel drug misuse in our communities. Today’s sentencing is a result of law enforcement’s collaborative work.”
“Blackman prescribed highly addictive pills to people who had no legitimate need,” Melendez said. “To add to his crime, he knowingly handed out prescriptions for oxycodone to individuals he knew were already addicted. Blackman’s actions make him no different than the street-corner drug pusher. Today’s sentencing should stand as a reminder to others that we will continue our joint law-enforcement efforts to ensure that crooked doctors like Blackman can no longer put pen to pad and cause more harm.”