Tonawanda News — When federal drug investigators raided a prominent North Tonawanda doctor’s office in August, at first no one really knew what was going on.
Four months later, Dr. Matthew Bennett continues to stand accused of illegally dispensing prescription medication out of his River Road office and Clarence home.
Federal authorities and local police swept into his office and residence on the morning of Aug. 10 to look for evidence, after several sales were allegedly made to undercover officers weeks earlier.
The family care physician was arrested by the agents that day. U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul said the 46-year-old doctor did not examine many of his patients when prescribing pills and would often trade items at his home such as toiletries and even a gas grill for opiate-based prescription medications including Roxicodone, Oxymorphone and Xanax.
In other instances, Hochul said, he would not give medical examinations and hand out prescription drugs through a back door of his office, while allowing patients to dictate the quantity and types of medications that were distributed, sometimes by abusing the Medicaid program.
Suspicions were raised by police after the arrest of several of Bennett’s patients for selling prescription drugs on the streets of Western New York during the last several years.
The Drug Enforcement Agency said an investigation was launched in February 2011.
Soon after, four undercover officers and a civilian began purchasing the drugs from Bennett in May 2012. Over the course of the next two months seven total transactions took place, officials said.
In July of this year, Bennett passed Oxymorphone in the driveway of his home on Hunting Valley Road in Clarence to an undercover agent in return for a large quantity of toilet paper and paper towels, and a week later another undercover officer delivered paper products to his office for prescription pills, when Bennett allegedly said he’d like to make similar exchanges on a weekly basis.