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Physician fined for writing pain-relief prescriptions; State Health Department also places doctor on probation for misconduct tied to 2 patients

The state Health Department has fined and placed on probation a local physician who prescribed "dangerously large quantities" of pain relievers to two patients in his care.

Dr. David Hallasey-Roberts also was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation after being fined $10,000 by the Health Department's Board for Professional Medical Conduct.

While Hallasey-Roberts no longer practices on Union Road in West Seneca, the state-ordered probation requires that for five years he practice only when monitored by a board-certified physician.

In a series of allegations that Hallasey-Roberts has admitted, the state board found that the doctor failed to perform adequate physical assessments on the two patients and did not keep adequate records on their care.

Further, he prescribed pain relievers for the two even after they were in the care of another physician -- without informing the physician, according to the state's report.

The state board found Hallasey-Roberts wrote one of the patients 44 hydrocodone/APAP prescriptions in nine months -- enough pills to last five and a half years were the directions being followed.

The other patient received six 30-day supplies of hydrocodone/APAP in just two months, state documents indicate.

The state identified the patients only as "Patient A" and "Patient B." But in a special order made official in March, the state told the doctor he is "permanently restricted" from providing medications to family members.

This is noteworthy partly because the doctor's son was arrested in 2007 by an Erie County sheriff's deputy on charges of driving while his ability was impaired by drugs, and another police agency arrested the son the next night on a similar charge.

Facing those two sets of charges, Matthew D. Hallasey, 24 at the time, alleged that the Erie County deputy who arrested him then raped him during the booking process.

It led to a highly publicized trial that cleared Deputy George A. Avery Jr. of all charges but cost him tens of thousands of dollars in attorney's fees.

Hallasey later filed a civil lawsuit against Avery and Erie County. The civil proceeding -- which requires a lower standard of proof than a criminal case -- is scheduled for trial in State Supreme Court late this year.

The lawyer who represented Hallasey-Roberts before the Board for Professional Medical Conduct, James Harrington, refused to say whether Patients A and B are Hallasey-Roberts' family members. However, he predicted that the state's action against the doctor and news reports about it will affect the civil case.

Stephen Ciocca, the lawyer handling that lawsuit for Matthew Hallasey, felt otherwise -- though Ciocca had not read the report and would not comment on whether it implies the doctor provided family members with large amounts of hydrocodone.

"That particular action is specifically between the Health Department and Dr. Hallasey, and it in no way impacts or affects Matthew Hallasey's cause of action against either Deputy Avery or Erie County," Ciocca said. "Matthew is a plaintiff in a completely separate proceeding."

Erie County Attorney Michael Siragusa, whose staff is defending Avery and county government in the case, did not return a telephone message seeking comment.

Health Department officials explained in their findings that they did not revoke or suspend the doctor's license because, among other things, they found no evidence that his conduct harmed patients from his "outside practice."

The state's report indicates that Hallasey-Roberts told the state officials about a "host of traumatic life events" that he believed affected his "psychological state." The details of most of these events were erased from the publicly circulated copy of the report.

When Matthew Hallasey was stopped on Jan. 9, 2007, he emptied his pockets of drug vials and told the deputy "those are the prescriptions my father wrote," according to a statement Avery completed for the sheriff's internal affairs team two weeks later.

Avery turned Matthew Hallasey over to his father several hours after the arrest. The deputy told the physician of the different types of drugs found on the son, according to Avery's report for internal affairs.

Avery said the doctor responded: "You mean he is mixing hydrocodone with Elavil? [A pain reliever and an antidepressant] No wonder he is so drowsy in there. I am going to get him to a psychiatrist."

The next night, Matthew Hallasey was stopped again for erratic driving, this time by an East Aurora officer. Hallasey had driven the black Lexus SUV registered to his mother into a ditch.

Facing another charge related to impaired driving, Matthew Hallasey soon after reported that Avery had raped him while he was being booked at the Sheriff's Office's Elma substation.

Hallasey described an attack that would have produced DNA evidence, but investigators found none at the scene.

Avery waived his right to a jury trial and instead asked that a judge weigh the evidence against him.

County Court Judge Sheila A. DiTullio declared Avery not guilty on Sept. 12, 2007.