Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 12 February 2010 00:00
The trial of Sanji Francis, the Melville doctor, accused of selling prescription drugs to Massapequa area teenagers, that was set to begin Feb. 8 has been adjourned until at least next Tuesday, Feb. 16.
On Feb. 3, Janice Talento and Vicky Honohan, co-founders of Drug Free Massapequa, addressed a letter to the Hon. Stephen Jaeger, the Nassau County Court Judge who is overseeing the case. The purpose of the letter, whose contents are listed below, was to deny Dr. Francis a trail of judicial diversion.
“[We] write to strongly request that you deny Dr. Sanji Francis to receive judicial diversion,” the letter began. “As you are aware, he was arrested for selling dangerous and life threatening Pharmaceutical drugs to students and young adults in the Massapequa community.
“[We] believe Dr. Francis committed a violent act, and is clearly dangerous to our children and the public safety of our community.
“Hundreds and probable thousands of residents are outraged by his attempt to avoid these serious charges by means of a judicial diversion.
[We] strongly appeal to you to act to protect our community by refusing his request. Please see that justice is served. [We] will be distributing this letter to as many residents as possible to inform them to be cognizant of your decision.”
According to Ms. Talento, up to 1,100 Massapequa residents have already mailed similar letters to Judge Jaeger, all asking that Dr. Francis not receive judicial diversion.
Ms. Talento added that whenever the trial does take place, up to 100 Massapequa residents on are hand to go to Mineola and attend the proceedings, all as a form of solidarity with the youth of Massapequa.
The trial, when it takes place, will be held at the Supreme Court building in Mineola.
On Dec. 8, 2009, Nassau County police arrested Francis and charged him with the criminal sale of prescriptions.
According to police, Francis did knowingly and unlawfully sell prescriptions of Oxycodone (a schedule II controlled substance) to another on nine different dates, from Aug. 1 to Dec. 8 of 2009. Francis, detectives added, received anywhere from $480 - $600 for the prescriptions.
More specifically, Francis was charged with nine counts of Criminal Sale Prescription (C Felony) and was arraigned on Wednesday, Dec. 9 in First District Court, Hempstead.
At a press conference, held also on Dec. 9, Police Commissioner Lawrence W. Mulvey issued stinging criticism of the defendant.
“Dr. Saji Frances is the antithesis of the Hippocratic oath, to do no harm,” Commissioner Mulvey said. “His greed and total disregard for the ethics of the medical profession has exacerbated the opiate and heroin abuse in Massapequa.”
At the press conference, Mulvey said that detectives were tipped off to the defendant last June by a local parent whose son was battling a heroin conviction. The youth in question, Mulvey said, had gone to Francis for the past five years whenever “things got bad.”
Mulvey thanked the Massapequa community for their sense of awareness that helped to lead to the investigation and eventual arrest of Francis.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice issued her own statement on the arrest.
“This doctor was selling drugs across the street from Massapequa High School,” she noted. “Dangerous painkillers like these are often the gateway to more lethal opiates like heroin, and this community right now is ground zero in our battle against the Island’s heroin epidemic. This arrest represents an important victory in our fight.”