The trial of a Merrick doctor charged with illegally prescribing opioids for his own profit and causing two deaths by overdose will be put on-hold until April, a federal district court judge ruled last week.
Michael Belfiore is charged with writing thousands of prescriptions illegally, although his attorney, Tom Liotti, of Garden City, has fought every step of the way to portray pharmaceutical companies and poor regulation as the real problem, and Belfiore as a victim.
According to court documents, the trial was postponed in order for Liotti to review additional evidence being brought forth by prosecutors.
According to Liotti, the evidence shows that one of the former patients who died of an overdose was being treated for chronic pain and prescribed opioids by a Veterans Administration hospital while he was being treated by Belfiore.
The second deceased patient was, according to Liotti, suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts, and having marital problems.
“Both of these patients had histories which my client did not know,” Liotti said. “The medical examiner has arbitrarily decided that these deaths were ‘accidental’ and not suicidal. Clearly they were mistaken. These charges should be dismissed.”
Prosecutors have declined to comment to the Herald throughout the case, but in a July 2017 statement, acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde said, “Medical professionals who issue prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose are violating the law and will be held accountable, especially when they cause the death of the very patients they have a duty to heal.”
Belfiore’s trial is now scheduled for the week of April 18.