Not all serial killers wear scary masks and wield butcher knives. Sometimes they do their dastardly deeds wearing white coats and using a prescription pad. Such was the case with Long Island’s so-called “Dr. Death,” who was recently charged with five counts of murder for overprescribing opioids to his patients.
George Blatti, 75, became the first New York physician ever to be charged with “depraved indifference murder” for prescribing “massive quantities” of painkillers to five patients already in the “throes of addiction,” prosecutors said.
Blatti was arraigned on five counts of second-degree murder and 11 counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree. If he is convicted of the top charge, he could face up to 25 years behind bars.
“This doctor’s prescription pad was as lethal as any murder weapon,” Nassau County DA Nassau Madeline Singas said in a statement.
“We allege that Dr. Blatti showed depraved indifference to human life, total disregard 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,” Singas said during a press conference announcing the doctor’s indictment.
Blatti indictment is the first time in New York that a doctor has been charged with “depraved indifference murder” for overprescribing drugs.
According to the NY penal code, a “depraved indifference” murder charge is filed when a person “recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes the death of that person.”
“Basically, he’s a serial killer in our opinion,” Singas told reporters during the press conference.
The five patients, ages 31, 44, 50, 53, and 55, died between 2016 and 2018, prosecutors said.
At one point, Dr. Blatti prescribed one of the patients, a 55-year-old man, nine times the recommended daily maximum dose of opioid painkillers, prosecutors said.
Some relatives of the victims were present in the Nassau County Court when Blatti was arraigned. When the doctor was asked how he pleads, Blatti turned his head to first look at his lawyer as if seeking confirmation and then said, “Not guilty.”
“He Simply Did Not Care if His Patients Lived or Died…”
Assistant District Attorney Stefanie Palma said that Blatti continued to prescribe opioids to the patients even up to a few days before they died of overdoses. The DA said that Blatti ignored any underlying medical conditions and any signs of drug addiction and also paid no heed to pleas from their families for him to stop enabling their drug abuse.
He even ignored recommendations from the Office of Professional Conduct to change the way he prescribes medicine, Palma charged.
He continued to write prescriptions “that served no legitimate medical purpose,” even after three of his patients died, Palma alleged. Then, the fourth and fifth patients died.
“The defendant’s actions leaves us with one conclusion,” she said. “This defendant simply did not care whether his patients lived or died.”
Blatti’s attorney said he should not be imprisoned awaiting trial, as he posed no flight risk due to ill health. The attorney Jeffrey Groder said his client didn’t receive a COVID-19 vaccine, has metastatic prostate cancer, heart disease, and wears a catheter.
However, the judge rejected the plea and ordered Blatti held without bail because of the seriousness of the charges and his prior rap sheet.
Blatti was previously arrested in 2019 for selling drug prescriptions out of the trunk of his car at a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot in a strip-mall, where prosecutors say he kept a makeshift office.
“Following his arrest last year, he allegedly told the detective, ‘I’m smarter than you, I’m the doctor, I know what I’m doing. I don’t tell you how to be a detective, you don’t tell me how to be a doctor,’” Singas said at a press conference.
Before Blatti’s arraignment, a woman who declined to give her name said that her brother died as a result of Blatti’s overprescribing.
“He’s a horrible person,” she said. “He’s horrific. I’m a nurse, so it makes it that much harder for me to deal with this.”
When asked if the fact that the doctor is being charged with murder brings her any comfort, she said, “Of course, absolutely.”
“I don’t care what you look like. I don’t care if you’re on a corner with a hoodie on, you dress with a suit on, you dress like a pharmacist or a doctor,” Nassau County Police commissioner Patrick Ryder said at the press conference. “We will spend the time and the effort to come after you and hunt you down. We owe it to our victims to give them a voice.”