A former Hershey cardiologist was sentenced Monday to 22 months of house arrest after he pleaded guilty to selling blank prescriptions to a woman, who allegedly used them to buy and illegally sell oxycodone pills.
Claude Fanelli Jr. of Harrisburg has also been ordered to pay a $250,000 fine. He will be on probation for five years, according to the state attorney general's office, which prosecuted Fanelli.
Fanelli's attorney, William Fulton, said his client's behavior was a direct result of medication he was taking to treat Parkinson's disease.
Mirapex, Fulton said, induced an obsessive-compulsive gambling addiction. Fanelli no longer takes the medication, Fulton said.
Stopping the drug was "like turning off a light switch," Fulton said.
In a pre-sentencing memorandum filed with the court, Fulton said Mirapex "drove a man who had never before entered a casino to an irresistible fixation on gambling, financial disaster and uncharacteristic criminal associations."
Fanelli voluntarily admitted himself to treatment at a Virginia facility, where he was diagnosed with pathological gambling and impulsive control disorder, according to the filing.
Surrendered license: Before he was charged, Fanelli also surrendered his medical license and his Drug Enforcement Administration license.
Fanelli won't be able to practice medicine for at least 10 years. And, at age 57, it's unlikely he'll ever return to cardiology, Fulton said.
Fulton said he believes Fanelli's sentence - which spares him jail time - was fair, given the "extraordinary and unique" circumstances of the case.
Officials allege another individual was in charge of the prescription forgery ring.
It's estimated the prescription forgery ring illegally sold about 4,400 narcotic oxycodone pills at $20 to $30 a tablet between February 2012 and April 2012, according to a statewide grand jury presentment. The pills had an estimated street value of $111,000, officials said.
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