Trial begins in case of Staten Island doctor accused in steroid probe.

Posted: 2010 in anabolic steroids, steroids, steroids blog, steroids uk

A brilliant physician who saved lives, or just a drug pusher, whose greed lead to the death of one of his patients?

That’s for a jury to decide, as the trial begins in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn today of a Staten Island doctor charged with contributing to the death of an Island body builder, and selling prescriptions in a national steroid ring that included police officers and athletes.

Dr. Richard Lucente, 38, faces 5 and a half years on each of the 76 counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance. He was also charged with 76 public health violations and one count of reckless endangerment for his alleged responsibility in the death of 39-year-old Westerleigh man Joseph Baglio.

Those counts are likely to be reduced by the time the trial is concluded, said Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, who is trying the case.
He pleaded not guilty in February 2009.

Dr. Lucente’s attorney, John Meringolo, believes it is the first case in which a doctor has been charged in the death of a patient for prescribing steroids.

Meringolo said the evidence against his client is not even strong enough to merit a defense.

“They have no case,” he said.

Prosecutors believe otherwise.

Dr. Lucente began treating Baglio in his Dongan Hills office in June 2005, just months after Baglio received a heart transplant. His own heart had failed due to steroid abuse — and he was taking several medications, including one to control high blood pressure, according to a medical document included in the court papers.

For about $500 per month, Dr. Lucente put Baglio in his “wellness program,” treating him with more anabolic steroids and human growth hormone (HGH).

Baglio died of heart failure less than two years later.

Dr. Lucente’s connection to a national illegal steroids ring was first reported in the Advance in October 2007, shortly after federal authorities raided Lowen’s Drug Store in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The authorities seized $8 million worth of human growth hormone and anabolic steroids and hundreds of records of prescriptions written by Dr. Lucente, sources told the Advance.

Lowen’s co-owner John Rossi, who was named in former Sen. George Mitchell’s report on drug use in baseball, killed himself three months later.

All told, Dr. Lucente netted $530,000 from 220 clients between 2005 and 2007, prosecutors allege.

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