Doctor Receives 20-Year Sentence For Reckless Opioid Prescribing

By Victoria Kim 05/03/19

The Manhattan doctor was convicted on 10 counts of unlawful distribution of oxycodone without legitimate medical purpose.

doctor handcuffed after receiving 20-year sentence

A family doctor based in Manhattan’s Upper East Side was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday (April 30) for recklessly prescribing opioid painkillers that played a role in one patient’s fatal overdose.

Dr. Martin Tesher, 83, was convicted in July of 10 counts of unlawful distribution of oxycodone without legitimate medical purpose to five patients, including 27-year-old Nicholas Benedetto.

In March of 2016, two days after visiting Tesher and receiving prescriptions for oxycodone and fentanyl patches, Benedetto fatally overdosed on the drugs.

According to, one month before his death, Benedetto’s mother called Tesher asking him to stop giving her son prescriptions because he needed treatment. She told authorities that her son was smoking the fentanyl patches.

Tesher prescribed oxycodone and fentanyl patches to Benedetto and four other patients “after he learned, or had reason to believe, that these patients were addicted to drugs,” according to the Justice Department.

An expert witness testified that none of them “had verified medical conditions that would require the prescription of Schedule II opioids.”

Benedetto, while under the doctor’s care, tested positive for cocaine, heroin, morphine and methadone in addition to the oxycodone and fentanyl prescribed by Tesher.

Twenty years was the minimum sentence Tesher faced for his crime. The maximum was life in prison.

“In the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic, Dr. Tesher used his medical skills to harm, not heal and in doing so he cost a young man his life,” said U.S. Eastern District Attorney Richard Donoghue. “Such criminal conduct is an utter betrayal of the trust our society places in doctors and it warrants the severe sentence imposed today.”

The DOJ has recently cracked down on health care providers and drug companies accused of playing a role in fueling the opioid crisis.

Also last month, 60 people were indicted for the illegal prescribing of painkillers including doctors, pharmacists, nurse practitioners and other licensed medical professionals.

According to the Washington Post, the indictment included “doctors who prosecutors said traded sex for prescriptions and a dentist who unnecessarily pulled teeth from patients to justify giving them opioids.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr