By Curtis Skinner
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former pharmacy executive at a major New York City hospital was arrested on Tuesday and charged with stealing $5.6 million worth of narcotic painkillers from the medical center, authorities said.
Anthony D'Alessandro, 47, former director of pharmacy services at Beth Israel Medical Center, was charged with stealing nearly 200,000 oxycodone pills from the hospital over five years, New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said in a statement.
"One rogue pharmacist was responsible for the diversion of nearly 200,000 addictive pills. This case underscores the vigilance required when addictive medication with a high resale value is readily available," Brennan said in the statement.
D'Alessandro was charged with operating as a major trafficker under the state's Drug Kingpin statute, grand larceny, and 247 counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance. The charges carry a minimum of eight years in prison, and a maximum life sentence, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office said.
Officials said D'Alessandro was arrested as his home on Tuesday morning, and was expected to be arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court later in the day. D'Alessandro's attorney Joseph Sorrentino was not immediately available for comment.
As director of pharmacy services, D'Alessandro managed the medication stocked and sold at Beth Israel's flagship location in lower Manhattan. Prosecutors said he stole the pills on at least 218 different days between January 2009 and April 2014.
Prosecutors said D'Alessandro accessed the hospital's medication vault and made false entries in the center's inventory system indicating the stolen pills were being sent to the hospital's research pharmacy. He also filled out fraudulent prescriptions in his wife's name, prosecutors said.
The theft came to light during the merger of Continuum Health Partners and Mount Sinai Medical Center. The incoming leadership launched a full investigation and audit into the pharmacy on a tip, and referred their case to the city's Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor.
Authorities were continuing an investigation into what D'Alessandro ultimately did with the narcotics, the spokeswoman said.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg)