Top Stories 2015: Local PA, councilman arrested in Riverhead drug ring bust

12/29/2015 9:00 AM |

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The alleged details in the case against Riverhead physician’s assistant Michael Troyan were substantial: 60,000 prescription painkillers. 20 co-conspirators. Almost $2 million in sales over a four-year period. A demand for an assault rifle as payment.

When the news broke in November, the community was shocked, with online commenters expressing astonishment, confusion, sadness and anger.

Then, less than three weeks later, Southampton Town Councilman Brad Bender pleaded guilty in federal court to selling oxycodone prescribed for him by Mr. Troyan. Prosecutors said Mr. Bender sold the pills to an unnamed co-conspirator in the drug ring, who then passed them on to other drug abusers in the community.

Mr. Bender resigned from office immediately, prompting the Southampton Town Board to set a special election to replace him.

Mr. Troyan faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted of the charges leveled against him, although court documents from November indicated he was negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors.

He practiced at East End Urgent and Primary Care on East Main Street in Riverhead, where prosecutors said they have audio and visual recordings of him discussing the sale of oxycodone pills with one of the co-conspirators.

Assistant U.S. attorney Allen Bode wrote in a letter to a judge that Mr. Troyan “presents an unacceptable danger to the community.”

“That he was willing to use his medical license and prescription authority for years to brazenly push a dangerous drug such as oxycodone for cash shows the risk he poses,” Mr. Bode wrote.

Although he admitted to selling the pills, Mr. Bender claimed he knew nothing about the larger 20-person drug ring that Mr. Troyan was allegedly operating. Instead, he claimed he began sharing his own medication with another person, who then turned around and sold them to others.

“Unfortunately, what I thought was for personal use [by that person] was not being used for personal use,” Mr. Bender told the News-Review.

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