Physician known as 'El Chapo of Opioids' gets 6 years in prison

Robert Delagente, DO, was sentenced to 72 months in prison for opioid distribution and falsifying medical records to cover it up, the Justice Department said May 5.

Dr. Delagente, 48, practiced at Oakland, N.J.-based North Jersey Family Medicine beginning in May 2014, the department said. While there, he prescribed drugs including oxycodone, Percocet, Tylenol with codeine, and various benzodiazepines without a legitimate medical purpose.

He allegedly referred to himself as "El Chapo of Opioids" and the "Candy Man," the department said in a Feb. 24, 2020, statement announcing Dr. Delagente's admission of guilt.

Dr. Delagente prescribed the drugs to patients without ever seeing them or discussing the medical need, the department said. He allowed patients to ask him for drugs via text messages and would write prescriptions that he would leave at the front desk without requiring an office visit or consultation.

He prescribed the dangerous drug combination known as the "holy trinity," or opioids, benzodiazepines and muscle relaxers, the department said. He also prescribed drugs to patients he knew were addicted.

The Justice Department said after an employee at the practice texted Dr. Delagente that a patient had gotten a babysitter and driven a long distance to get to the practice but was unable to see a doctor, he responded, "Oh well … C'est la vie! Lol … He can wait for his oral heroin another day. Lol."

He was sentenced to three years of supervised release after his prison term, the department said.

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