NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A woman described how she found her boyfriend dead, in testimony at the Manhattan trial of Dr. Stan Li – who is accused of manslaughter in the death of two drug-addicted patients.
As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, the patients who died both bought oxycodone at Li’s clinic in Flushing, Queens. One of the patients was Nicholas Rappold, 21, who had been a high school athlete.
His girlfriend, Aura Hernandez, testified that she was with him the night he died. They had been driving around Queens, both of them getting high and popping pills – Xanax and oxycodone – and smoking marijuana.
The next morning, when Rappold had failed to go home and was missing, Hernandez and her mother drove around looking for him and found him dead – slumped over the wheel in his Jeep, Hernandez testified.
The empty pill bottles were on the seat beside Rappold – providing the link between his death and Li’s clinic, Hernandez testified.
Earlier this month, another patient, Matt Reale, told jurors that a visit to Li for painkiller prescriptions would take five minutes or less. Reale said he would take a number at the clinic and then wait with as many as 100 addicted patients.
Reale said Li prescribed him Percocet, oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl and Xanax. When he told the doctor he was experiencing blackouts, getting lost for hours and becoming scared and angry, Li instructed him to keep taking the medications and he would get used to the side effects, Reale testified.
He helped jump-start the investigation into Li and his practice. The last straw, Reale said, came when he went into the clinic to complain about being overbilled and was confronted by two large men, whom he described as Li’s bouncers, who chased him out of the office.
Prosecutors have portrayed Li as a drug dealer with a medical degree, even alleging the doctor kept writing narcotics prescriptions to one patient who overdosed five times in a year and another whose father implored him to stop.
When state officials stripped Li of his medical license in January 2012, they said the doctor also overlooked such warning signs as requests for early refills and state reports that patients were doctor-shopping for multiple prescriptions.
Authorities have also said that Li provided 24 prescriptions filled by David Laffer, who later pleaded guilty to killing four people in the 2011 robbery of a pharmacy in Medford, Long Island.
Laffer is serving a life sentence for murder. His wife, Melinda Brady, admitted to driving the getaway car and is serving 25 years.
Li’s lawyer has said the New Jersey-based doctor acted properly and that Li didn’t know some patients were misusing drugs he prescribed.
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