The complex saga of Baldwin doctor William Conway, 70, resulted in a guilty plea last week when the embattled physician copped to a charge of conspiring to distribute oxycodone. The plea bargain allowed Conway to duck a possible sentence of life in prison after he was initially charged with causing the deaths of two people to whom he provided prescriptions — Giovanni Manzella and Christopher Basmas.
Conway, whose lawyers argued that he was duped into providing the pills, now faces up to 20 years in prison, a revocation of his medical license and up to $1 million in fines.
Conway’s arrest and subsequent conviction began to take shape in 2011, when federal officials cracked down on the illegal distribution of prescription painkillers on Long Island, spurred in part by a murderous drugstore robbery in Medford that June.
Conway’s longtime assistant, Robert Hachemeister, 67, also a Baldwin resident, pleaded guilty to the same charges about six months ago, and testified against his employer of 20 years. Hachemeister, who also faces up 20 years in prison, said in court that he “agreed with Dr. Conway to write and issue individual prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances, which both I and Dr. Conway knew were not for legitimate medical purposes.” Hachemeister also admitted he “filled out prescriptions for oxycodone that Dr. Conway had pre-signed in advance,” and said, “All of my conduct in this regard was done specifically at Dr. Conway’s direction.”
According to the charges against Conway, who was one of 98 people arrested in a sweep in June 2012, he wrote more than 5,500 oxycodone prescriptions between January 2009 and November 2011, for a total of almost 800,000 pills. The indictment also accused Conway of writing prescriptions for people he never met, and charged that he prescribed 450 pills to Manzella only two days before he died in April 2011.
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