He was known for prescribing what drug treatment experts ironically call “The Holy Trinity” — a combination of Oxycodone, the muscle relaxer Somo, and Xanex that together are powerful, addictive, and, officials say, deadly.
Now, a Queens pain doctor has been charged with 231 counts, including manslaughter and reckless endangerment, after the overdose deaths of three patients who succumbed to his deadly concoctions, officials said Thursday.
Between 2012 and 2017, Dr. Lawrence Choy, 65, a kidney doctor, illegally prescribed an estimated million pills, law enforcement sources told The Post.
He began peddling the poisons in earnest after a financially-bruising divorce, sources said. Choy also owed $1 million in back taxes at the time his prescription-writing took off, officials said.
As Choy’s notoriety grew, over 100 patients a week were crowding his offices at 142-20 Franklin Avenue in Flushing, sources said.
They came first from Queens; then from throughout the city, Long Island, and the tri-state area, officials said, paying $120 per visit and — often without even a cursory examination — allegedly walking out with multiple prescriptions for painkillers, muscle relaxers and benzodiazepines.
It was the Attorney General’s office in Pennsylvania that first noticed that a large number of painkiller prescriptions were coming into the state from a lone nephrologist’s office in Flushing, Queens, officials said.
An investigation was launched by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the NYPD, the city Human Resource Administration, State Police, the Queens DA and the city’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor.
Three overdose deaths have been linked to Choy’s prescriptions, according to the indictment against him.
On Feb. 23, 2013, father of two and clothing store employee Eliot Castillo, 35, was found dead by his mother on his couch in Jamaica, Queens. In June of the year before he died, he was prescribed 680 oxycodone pills by Choy, the indictment says.
On March 23, 2014, car dealership employee Michael Ries, 30, was found dead in his family’s home in Hauppauge, NY. Three days before his death, he’d filled four prescriptions for Choy’s “Holy Trinity” of meds, a total of 720 pills, officials said.
On Jan. 15, 2016, chef Daniel Barry, 43, was found dead in his house in Suffolk County. He’d been prescribed three opioid painkillers simultaneously – Oxycodone, morphine and fentanyl patches.
Both Castillo and Ries had been prescribed Choy’s dangerous “Holy Trinity” of medications, each of which impairs respiration, an effect that worsens when they’re used in combination, officials said.
All three patients had been issued opioid prescriptions in amounts that were more than quadruple the recommended maximum dosages, officials said.
Choy would keep prescribing even after learning that patients had been involved in motor vehicle accidents or were struggling through substance abuse treatment, officials said.
In all, Choy is charged with illegal prescriptions to 14 patients.
DEA Strike Force officers searched Choy’s office in 2016, seizing records and electronics, sources said. Officials asked him to surrender his license to prescribe drugs, but he declined and continued writing prescriptions, sources said.
In June 2017, Choy moved to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, packing up his Manhattan residence and leaving his Flushing office in disarray. He was arrested there March 29, officials said.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said, “This really reads like CDC’s list of how to not prescribe.” She added, “If we are to get ahead of this problem we must cut off the source of supply.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt said that the illegal diversion of prescriptions puts doctors on the same level as drug kingpins. “After 30-plus Years in law enforcement I never thought I’d see the day where major drug dealers and doctors would be interchangeable in DEA investigations,” he said.
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