A New York doctor was charged with murder Thursday in what prosecutors describe as a “depraved indifference” to life in an allegedly reckless abuse of prescription opioids.
George Blatti, 75, was charged on five counts of murder in the second degree and 11 counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree, according to the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office. The Long Island doctor was originally charged in a 54-count indictment in 2019 tied to criminal sale of prescription drugs.
The new charges against Blatti mark the state’s first case of second-degree murder against a doctor under the theory of “depraved indifference to human life,” the prosecutor's office said Thursday.
“We allege that Dr. Blatti showed depraved indifference to human life, total disregarded for the law, his ethical obligations, and the pleas of his patients and their family members when he prescribed massive quantities of dangerous drugs to victims in the throes of addiction, ultimately killing five patients who entrusted him with their care,” said Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.
Blatti is accused of prescribing drugs to patients with opioid addiction with no medical history review or exam, offering strong painkillers such as oxycodone. He saw patients at a “makeshift” office in a former Radio Shack storefront until 2019, when he lost the space, the prosecutor’s office alleged.
He then began seeing patients in the parking lots of a Dunkin’ Donuts and local hotel, billed insurance and accepted cash, according to the district attorney.
The murder charges are tied to five former patients — Geraldine Sabatasso, Michael Kinzer, Robert Mielinis, Sean Quigley and Diane Woodring — whose deaths were connected to opioid use. Blatti allegedly prescribed the patients thousands of pills over the years.
Woodring was prescribed more than 18,000 pills before her death in 2018, including oxycodone, alprazolam, mirtazapine and valproic acid.
Prosecutors said that Blatti is a general practitioner who obtained his license in 1976 but has no specialized accreditation in pain management.
An attorney for Blatti did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News on Thursday.
The doctor faces up to life in prison if convicted of the second degree murder charges filed against him.
Blatti is also facing the 2019 charges which included 22 counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance, 22 counts of criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions in the fourth degree, six counts of forgery in the second degree, two counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree, and two counts of reckless endangerment in the second degree.