Former Needham Doctor, Nurse Practitioner Face Drug Charges

It's a case the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts calls "incomprehensible." A former Needham doctor and nurse practitioner are due in court for a detention hearing Friday on charges they dispensed drugs to addicts and caused six deaths.

Federal prosecutors say addicts would wait for hours to see Dr. Joseph Zolot or Nurse Practitioner Lisa Pliner in their Needham office. After brief visits, authorities allege, those people would walk out with prescriptions for oxycodone, methadone or fentanyl — despite indications the patients were abusing, and sometimes selling, the drugs.

The duo allegedly billed about $300 for the initial visit $100-$150 for subsequent visits.

According to the indictment, Zolot and Pliner prescribed the drugs for profit, causing their patients to become and stay addicted, overdose, and in six cases, die.

Dennis Dillon is one of the six people who died. They allege Zolot ignored three separate warnings that Dillon was addicted to pain killers and provided him prescriptions for drugs that killed him three days later, on Feb. 22, 2004.

Their attorneys say they acted in good faith. If convicted in any of the deaths, they face at least 20 years in prison.

With reporting from Lynn Jolicoeur and The Associated Press.

This program aired on March 3, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


More from WBUR

Listen Live