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Doctor-turned-addict pleads guilty to drug conspiracy

Dr. James T. Keefe, a former physician at Erie County Medical Center and Mercy Hospital, wrote dozens of fake prescriptions for himself and others.

Keefe, an addict at the time, stood before a judge Thursday and admitted leading a drug conspiracy as part of a plea agreement that could send him to prison for up to 14 years.

Investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the 39-year-old doctor acknowledged writing 179 fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone and amphetamines over a four-year period ending in early 2018.

"I wrote prescriptions to get drugs for myself," Keefe told U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo. "I put a lot of people at risk."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Violanti said Keefe, who is currently living in Florida, wrote prescriptions for others with the understanding that they would share the drugs with him or give him other drugs, including cocaine.

The other defendants in the case are Phousavath Luangrath, 29, of Buffalo, an ECMC nurse and Keefe's ex-girlfriend; Takeya Rainey, 43, of Buffalo; Laura Ricotta, 27, of Williamsville; and Benjamin Rivera, 40, of Buffalo.

Keefe's license to practice in New York is currently inactive.


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