NEW YORK (AP) – Three Westchester doctors were accused Thursday of supplying Viagra and other prescription drugs so frequently to the Gambino crime family that one doctor joked he was part of the family, prosecutors said.

The physicians, Arlen Fleisher, Stephen Klass and George Shapiro, were led into U.S. District Court in Manhattan in handcuffs before they were each freed on $50,000 bail. All three declined to comment.

Prosecutors said the doctors received personal and financial benefits in return for drugs. A criminal complaint by FBI Agent William P. Ready recounted snippets of secretly taped conversations between the doctors and a reputed mobster.

In a release, the U.S. attorney’s office said the charges resulted from a three-year investigation in which an FBI agent worked undercover in one of the family’s crews.

The wider probe exposed alleged racketeering activities including extortion, loansharking and the sale of stolen goods. Those crimes were outlined in a March 2 indictment used to arrest 32 defendants including the family’s acting boss and underboss.

In a criminal complaint, the government alleged that the Westchester doctors regularly and illegally provided large amounts of drugs, including Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, all of which require a prescription.

In return, the doctors received discounted construction and auto repair work done by Gambino-controlled businesses and the use of a Gambino family table at a Manhattan restaurant, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said evidence included taped conversations between September 2003 and March, in which the doctors were heard discussing the prescription drugs.

In one, Klass allegedly referred to himself as the medical “consigliere” for the Gambino family.

In his complaint, Ready wrote that by the end of the investigation, one of the reputed mobsters “was running a virtual pharmacy for his associates” because he could get so much drugs from the defendants.

Barry S. Zone, a lawyer for Fleisher, said the government was trying to turn legitimate medical work, such as providing drug samples to patients, into a crime.

“These are hard working, honest doctors,” he said. “Apparently, I guess the rule is that if you’re alleged to be a wiseguy, don’t get sick.”

Robert Wolf, another lawyer for Fleisher, said: “I guess the medical profession is on notice now. Don’t treat Italians.”

Richard Herman, a lawyer for Shapiro, said his client had been treating one of the reputed mobsters for many years for a heart condition but had done nothing wrong.

He called Shapiro, who works as a cardiologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center “one of the most respected cardiologists in Westchester County.”

Herman said the charges were based “on the rantings and puffings on tape of unsavory individuals.”

Shapiro, 44, was arrested at his Ardsley home.

John Mitchell, a lawyer for Klass, declined to comment.

If convicted, the doctors could face up to 10 years in prison.


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