Doctor Known as ‘El Chapo of Opioids’ Admits Prescribing Addictive Painkillers

Robert Delagente
New Jersey Attorney General

A doctor admitted he gave patients unnecessary painkillers and falsified medical records to cover it up in Bergen County, New Jersey, Monday.

Robert Delagente, 45, of Oakland, pleaded guilty in federal court to drug conspiracy, distribution charges, and falsifying medical records, according to NJ.com.

“The doctor prescribed opioids and other drugs, including oxycodone, Percocet, Tylenol with codeine, and various benzodiazepines (alprazolam, diazepam, clonazepam, and temazepam), without a legitimate medical purpose,” the report said.

In May 2014, Delagente was a doctor at North Jersey Family Medicine (NJFM) in Oakland, according to a 2019 press release by the District of New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“He allegedly described himself in conversations pertaining to his prescribing of painkillers as the ‘Candy Man’ and the ‘El Chapo of Opioids,'” the release stated.

Investigators said Delagente allowed patients to decide the strength and dosage of the drugs and also gave them a combination called “The Holy Trinity” which contained opioids, benzodiazepines, and muscle relaxers.

“Delagente failed to monitor patients for addiction and ignored drug screening tests to determine whether certain patients were taking illicit drugs,” the U.S. District Attorney’s Office said in a press release Monday.

The release continued:

Delagente prescribed controlled substances without ever seeing the purported patient for a medical visit or even discussing with the patient the medical need for the prescription. He allowed patients to ask him for controlled substances via text message and would write a prescription for patients that he would leave at the front desk, without requiring an office visit or consultation of any kind.

The doctor also prescribed the drugs to patients he knew were addicted to opioids or other controlled substances.

For instance, when an NJFM employee texted him about a patient who drove a long way to get to the practice but was then unable to see a doctor, Delagente replied: “Oh well … C’est la vie! Lol … He can wait for his oral heroin another day. Lol.”

Monday, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito condemned the doctor for his actions.

“Many of these patients were dealing with pain and addiction, and instead of getting help from their doctor, they were drawn deeper into the cycle of drug abuse. His admission of guilt today ensures that he will be appropriately punished for this behavior,” he stated.

The doctor is scheduled to be sentenced June 10 and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and $1 million fine for each of the distribution of controlled dangerous substances charges.

“Delagente faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the charge of falsifying medical records,” the Monday press release added.

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