Over the course of four years, Dr. Paul T. Biddle wrote 888 prescriptions to a Tampa, Fla. pharmacy, according to prosecutors.
But the prescriptions for opioids never made it to the Orchard Park doctor's patients, they claim, and instead ended up back in his own hands.
Biddle, 53, was arrested Tuesday and charged with using his patients, two of them dead, as a front for his own addiction.
"Sadly, it appears that Dr. Biddle used his medical license as a license both to steal his patient information and to divert drugs to himself," U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. said.
Biddle's defense lawyer declined comment on the criminal allegations, but acknowledged his client's addiction. He said Biddle will immediately enter a residential treatment program and is committed to pursuing his recovery.
"Dr. Biddle is fighting an addiction to prescription medications and has been struggling with that problem for a time," defense attorney Brian M. Melber said. "He deeply regrets and apologizes to everyone affected."
Arrangements are being made so Biddle's patients can receive referrals to other doctors, Melber said.
The large number of prescriptions at the same out-of-town pharmacy in Tampa led to the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration investigation of Biddle and the allegations that he was feeding his own addiction, Kennedy said.
Evidence seized from the doctor's trash suggests the opioids were being used unlawfully at his home, according to the prosecution, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Adler. The prescriptions were for fentanyl, hydromorphone and morphine.
"Trash reveals a lot about people and what's going on in their home," Kennedy said.
Biddle was charged with identity theft and obtaining controlled substances though fraud. He was released on bail by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy, but ordered not to practice medicine or prescribe narcotics until after his next court appearance.
Kennedy declined to comment when asked if Biddle might have been selling or distributing drugs, as well as using them. Robert Gross, supervisory special agent for the FBI in Buffalo, said the investigation is ongoing.
The Biddle investigation began when the New York State Bureau of Controlled Substances discovered he was prescribing pain killers for 23 of his patients using a pharmacy in Tampa, according to court papers.
The prescriptions were paid for without insurance and were sent directly to the doctor's home in Amherst or his office in Orchard Park, according to the complaint against Biddle.
All told, he issued 888 prescriptions between November 2013 and October 2017, and 33 of them were for two patients already dead.
"It's a sad day," Kennedy said. "When people go to a doctor, they don't want their doctor on drugs."
A practicing physician for 16 years, Biddle is a graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He also has degree in ceramic engineering from Alfred University.
Before branching out into pain management, Biddle was an anesthesiologist at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. On his website, he said his pain management practice combines "the traditional cutting edge treatment with non-traditional proven methods to treat chronic pain."
He also operates a medical marijuana practice.
Biddle's arrest came just a week after federal prosecutors charged Dr. Eugene Gosy, a Williamsville pain specialist, in a 166-count indictment and linked him to the deaths of six patients.
Gosy, who pleaded not guilty, is the first local doctor to be charged with such a crime.
The charges against Biddle are the result of investigation by the FBI's Western New York Healthcare Fraud Task Force, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York State Department of Financial Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations and the Amherst Police Department.