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Arrest on federal drug charges for N.Y. substance abuse expert

People who take steps to recover from drug addiction sometimes turn their experience toward helping others with substance abuse problems. However, even one who has apparently had successes on the road to recovery can relapse. That appears to be what has happened to a faculty member at the University of Buffalo medical school following his recent arrest on drug charges. 

The University of Buffalo was aware of the physician's history of drug addiction, including a 2008 suspension of his medical license due to prior substance abuse, when it hired him to its Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program. He received reinstatement of his license on a probationary basis specifically for that purpose in 2014, becoming the faculty expert on substance abuse.

A spokesperson claims that the university regularly monitored the physician's work performance and treatment program compliance, as well as following all other state requirements for employing a physician with a prior license suspension due to prior substance abuse. There is no indication, according to the university, that the physician's patients were ever at risk or that he was derelict in the performance of his duties. 

The physician allegedly imported controlled substances to his home. In November, authorities intercepted and investigated mail addressed to the premises. A white powdery substance contained within the mail tested positive for cocaine and amounted to 3 grams. Parcels and envelopes going to the same address and intercepted in December tested positive for cocaine and heroin. Law enforcement took the physician into custody after serving a federal search warrant. 

Currently, the court has released the physician conditionally, but he faces a $1 million fine and a prison term of 20 years if convicted. The physician's plight illustrates the seriousness of the consequences for drug crimes, and anyone currently facing such charges may find it helpful to discuss the case with an attorney. 

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