Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — BUFFALO — A filing this week, in U.S. District Court in Buffalo, indicates that former Falls physician Pravin Mehta has taken a powder from Western New York and that will throw another delay into his federal prescription drug distribution case.
A member of Mehta’s defense team, attorney Herbert Greenman, wrote that he had met with U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder on Aug.13 and told the judge that Mehta “had left Buffalo on a family matter and did not expect to return until a time toward the end of (August).”
Greenman, facing a Tuesday deadline for filing motions in the case, asked Schroeder for another extension of time to submit his motions. It is the sixth request for a delay made by the defense team since late March.
In his request, Greenman promised Schroeder it would be his last request for an extension and apologized “for any inconvenience this may cause the court.”
Schroeder granted the request, setting a new — and final — deadline of Sept. 3.
Mehta has been charged in a 28-count federal grand jury indictment with illegally dispensing controlled substances, such as the pain medications Fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone and oxymorphone from his Main Street medical offices without “a legitimate medical purpose and not in the usual course of professional (medical) practice.”
The man known on Cataract City streets as “Dr. Feelgood” has since closed his office and surrendered his license to practice medicine.
Prosecutors had offered Mehta, 73, a plea deal last year. But against the advice of his own attorneys, Mehta turned down the offer.
During a lengthy undercover investigation dubbed “Operation Whatever U Want,” agents from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Falls narcotics detectives said Mehta, and others working in his medical practice, dispensed prescription narcotics in a massive, doctor fueled, drug trafficking operation.
The law enforcement agents said Mehta had flooded the Falls with a tsunami of prescription pain killers.
Nine other people were accused of obtaining and attempting to obtain controlled substances at local pharmacies by presenting prescriptions they knew were fraudulent or forged. A then current office manager and three former employees of Mehta’s medical practice were charged with forging the prescriptions.
So far, seven of Mehta’s co-defendants have taken plea deals from prosecutors.
The indictment also asks that Mehta be forced to give up his former medical office building on Main Street and $1.5 million he is accused of pocketing from the prescription drug trafficking scheme.
If he were convicted on the charges in the indictment, Mehta would face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.