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News

Orange County Doctor Charged In Case Linked to Yonkers Death

A Dutchess psychiatrist is charged with writing illegal prescriptions for more than 10,000 Oxycodone pills, including those that killed a Yonkers school teacher.
A Dutchess psychiatrist is charged with writing illegal prescriptions for more than 10,000 Oxycodone pills, including those that killed a Yonkers school teacher. Photo Credit: Flickr user AKZOphoto

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A Dutchess County psychiatrist was arrested Thursday on charges that he conspired to write illegal prescriptions for more than 10,000 painkillers, including those that killed a Yonkers school teacher in March, authorities said.

Alfred Ramirez, who in addition to his Dutchess practice, operates an office in Orange County, sold "medically unnecessary" prescriptions for thousands of Oxycodone pills over a nearly four-year period starting in 2012, said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara.

The complaint against Ramirez, which Bharara said was unsealed by authorities Thursday, also charged James Cooney, an alleged co-conspirator, with obtaining the prescriptions from Ramirez under assumed names and then selling the pills. 

Ramirez, who is accused of taking cash in exchange for the scripts needed to supply the painkillers, wrote out prescriptions for patients who sometimes were not even present, Bharara said.

Among those prescriptions were the pills on which the teacher would eventually overdose on March 23, Bharara said. A second drug, Alprazolam, was also found in the teacher's system. Bharara's office claimed that Ramirez and Cooney often worked together to distribute that drug as well.

Bharara said the investigation resulting in the arrests of Ramirez and Cooney was five months long and involved the Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York City Police Department and the U.S. Attorney's Office. 

Ramirez and Cooney both appeared before Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison in U.S. District Court on Thursday, Bharara said. Each man is to return to court at a later date.

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