Robert Delagente, 48, of Oakland, must serve out the entire plea-bargained sentence approved by a federal judge in Newark on Thursday, May 5, because there’s no parole in the federal prison system.
Delagente, who’d practiced at North Jersey Family Medicine on Yawpo Avenue in Oakland, randomly wrote prescriptions for oxycodone, Percocet and more with no questions asked, then tried to cover his tracks, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said.
The doctor “ignored the inherent danger and medical risk of overdose, drug abuse, and death that can accompany prescriptions of highly addictive opioids, benzodiazepines, and muscle relaxers, both on their own and in combination with one another,” Sellinger said.
Delagente even referred to himself in conversations as the “Candy Man” and the “El Chapo of Opioids” while freely prescribing drugs “outside the ordinary course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose,” he said.
Delagente prescribed the dangerous drug combination known as the “Holy Trinity,” comprised of opioids (usually oxycodone), benzodiazepines (usually alprazolam) and muscle relaxers (usually carisoprodol), the U.S. attorney said.
He didn’t bother to see most patients, leaving prescriptions at the front desk “without requiring an office visit or consultation of any kind,” Sellinger said.
He didn’t even discuss the medical need for the drugs, nor did he monitor patients for addiction or use drug screening tests to determine whether certain patients were taking illegal drugs, he said.
In one instance, an NJFM employee texted Delagente that a patient had gotten a babysitter and driven a long distance to get to the practice but had been unable to see a doctor, a complaint on file in U.S. District Court in Newark says.
Delagente allegedly responded: “Oh well … C’est la vie! Lol … He can wait for his oral heroin another day. Lol.”
After writing a prescription for 120 tablets of 30-milligram oxycodone for only 30 days, the complaint says, Delagente told the patient: “I’m literally sticking my neck out and can lose my medical license or [be] arrested for what I just did.”
Which is what ended up happening.
Delagante took a deal from the government rather than face trial, pleading guilty to illegally selling the drugs, falsifying records and conspiracy in U.S. District Court in Newark in February 2020.
In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi sentenced him on Thursday to three years of supervised release.
Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI with the investigation leading to Delagante’s guilty plea and sentence, secured by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason S. Gould of the Health Care Fraud Unit and Sean M. Sherman of the Opioids Unit in Newark.
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