At one point in his sentencing on a drug charge, Mohamed Yusuf A. Siddiqui broke down.
It came as the retired physician, now 73, explained his remorse and shame at what he had done and how it cost him one of the most important aspects of his life – his ability to practice medicine.
Forced to surrender his license in January, Siddiqui was sentenced Wednesday to a year of probation for what the judge suggested was an aberration in an otherwise "exemplary and remarkable" life.
"You've paid a very dear price for what you've done," U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo said. "You've made a very bad decision but that doesn't change the fact that you've had a remarkable life."
Charged with illegally obtaining painkillers from a former patient, Siddiqui eventually pleaded guilty to a single felony charge of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. He is the sixth Western New York doctor to admit that he illegally prescribed or received painkillers.
In his plea agreement with prosecutors, Siddiqui admitted signing two separate prescriptions for painkillers – one for 60 pills, the other for 120 pills – and giving them to his former patient's daughter in October of last year.
The daughter, who was addicted to painkillers, filled the prescriptions and returned some of the medication to Siddiqui.
"I was only trying to help her," Siddiqui said of the daughter. "It was clearly a bad decision."
Defense lawyers claim Siddiqui's actions last October were an aberration in an otherwise distinguished medical career. They also deny reports that he abuses his prescription medication.
"He's not addicted to his medication," said Sunil Bakshi, one of his two attorneys. "He didn't do this because of some addiction."
Siddiqui's lawyers pointed to the 60 letters of support that friends, family, patients and fellow doctors submitted to the court on his behalf. They also noted that, when the daughter asked for more pills, he told her "no."
"Even in his failure, he realized what he was doing was wrong and stopped it," said defense lawyer John E. Rogowski, a former federal prosecutor.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Astorga, who prosecuted the case, did not oppose the probationary sentence ordered by Vilardo.
At the time of Siddiqui's guilty plea, prosecutors noted that he was a patient of Dr. Eugene Gosy, a Williamsville pain management specialist who facing federal charges that he illegally prescribed painkillers.
Siddiqui's defense lawyers say he is no longer with Gosy and is now being treated by a different pain specialist.
Siddiqui's sentence is the latest development in an opioid epidemic that has claimed hundreds of lives across the region in recent years, and was the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Story topics: Shared