When investigators came across evidence of an Orchard Park doctor writing prescriptions, a lot of them, to be filled at a Tampa, Fla., pharmacy, they went looking through his trash.
What they found, they later claimed, was evidence of a doctor using his patients' identities to divert painkillers to himself.
On Monday, Dr. Paul T. Biddle pleaded guilty to identity theft and possession of unlawful hydromorphone during an appearance before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford in Rochester.
Biddle's conviction stems from a prosecution that focused on allegations that he wrote 888 prescriptions to a Tampa pharmacy and that the opioids ended up back in his own hands.
Biddle, 54, was also accused of using his patients, two of them dead, as a front for his addiction. Shortly after his arrest, he acknowledged his addiction and entered a residential treatment program.
"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 at the time.
The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration began investigating Biddle when they discovered the Florida prescriptions and suspected he was feeding his own addiction.
Investigators said evidence seized from the doctor's trash confirmed their suspicions that he was using his patients' profiles to write prescriptions and that the opioids were being mailed back to him.
Prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Adler, Biddle was charged with identity theft and obtaining controlled substances though fraud.
A practicing physician for 16 years, Biddle is a graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He also has a degree in ceramic engineering from Alfred University.
Before branching out into pain management, Biddle was an anesthesiologist at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. He also operated a medical marijuana practice.
The charges against Biddle are the result of investigation by the FBI's Western New York Health Care Fraud Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the state Department of Financial Services, the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General and Office of Investigations and the Amherst Police Department.