Doctor arrested in Sheboygan charged in NYC overdose deaths

Desiree Burns
June 9, 2018

Investigators say from 2012 to 2017, Dr. Lawrence Choy prescribed almost 1 million pills known as the "Holy Trinity", an addictive deadly cocktail of Oxycodone, Xanax and the muscle relaxer Somo.

He was extradited to NY from Wisconsin by Drug Enforcement Agency officers last week.

The three patients died between 2013 and 2016. His prescribing habits abruptly changed in 2012, according to Bridget G. Brennan, New York City's special narcotics prosecutor, after the filing of federal and state tax warrants against him totaling more than $1 million. A third overdose death, that of Suffolk County chef Dan Barry, who died January 15, 2016, is being charged as an act of reckless endangerment, officials said. He was arrested in March at a house in Sheboygan, Wis., where officials say he moved once he realized he was under investigation. Choy is accused if causing the overdose deaths of 35-year-old Eliot Castillo and 30-year-old Michael Ries, who each fatally overdosed within three days of receiving prescriptions from Choy.

He was determined by the medical examiners to have overdosed on "the holy trinity" of medications - oxycodone, alprazolam, and carisoprodol. Because each drug depresses the respiratory system, the risk of fatal overdoes is high. Brennan said Choy then shifted into pain management and began issuing large numbers of prescriptions to patients, some of whom had genuine pain issues.

Ries, who died in 2014, was involved in multiple auto accidents and suffered multiple overdoses where he had to be revived by emergency responders, according to investigators.

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Dr. Choy had been a licensed physician since 1981.

Officials said the five-year investigation into Choy began when authorities in Pennsylvania began noticing suspicious prescriptions written by Choy being filled there.

Dr. Lawrence Choy, 65, was scheduled to appear in Manhattan Supreme Court on Thursday for an arraignment. Eventually, police in New York City and state, Queens, Suffolk and Nassau counties became involved.

Choy is also alleged to have prescribed Castillo Percocet in addition to his other regimen. For example, the investigation revealed that Choy simultaneously prescribed individual patients a trio of drugs including one or more opioids, a benzodiazepine and a muscle relaxant. Medical literature explains that this combination, dubbed "the holy trinity", is known to be favored by individuals suffering from substance abuse and by those seeking to resell pills on the black market.

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