A Manhattan psychiatrist and medical assistant were busted Monday for illegally prescribing highly addictive drugs to undercover agents for no legitimate medical purpose in exchange for cash, authorities said.
After police received a complaint in the summer of 2019 of drug-seeking activity in front of Dr. Leon Valbrun’s medical practice, the NYPD and the city’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor launched a year-long investigation.
“The allegations in this case could not be more stark: a purported psychiatry office issued prescriptions for controlled substances upon request in exchange for cash, endangering the lives of New Yorkers,” said the city Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan in a statement.
Two NYPD undercover officers posed as patients and visited the practice at 37 E. 28th St.. Both met with medical assistant Po Yu Yen and received Xanax and Adderall scripts in Valbrun’s name without ever being examined by the doctor, authorities said. The interactions were captured on hidden cameras.
On Jan. 11, an undercover saw Yen, paying $300 in cash for the appointment, and told him she needed Xanax tablets for recreational use and to fuel a pill addiction. Yen gave her a prescription for the anti-anxiety drug lorazepam but promised to switch her to Xanax on her next visit.
The undercover returned for five more visits with Yen and was prescribed Xanax and Adderall for no legitimate medical purpose, authorities said.
A second undercover made four visits to the practice beginning on March 14, 2020, and never met with Valbrun in whose name the prescriptions were written. The officer told Yen he had used heroin and oxycodone and wanted a Xanax script to keep him off those drugs.
Yen allegedly issued the scripts despite the combination of Xanax and opioids like oxycodone being a potentially lethal combination, authorities said.
On a later visit, the undercover allegedly received an Adderall script after requesting the upper to help him focus on his music.
Valbrun, who graduated from the Medical School of Haiti, is the director of inpatient services at Interfaith Medical Center’s psychiatry department in Brooklyn, according to his faculty profile.
The hospital didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
“As alleged in this case, these defendants violated their oath to their profession and their responsibility to help New Yorkers,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement.
Valbrun and Yen are awaiting arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court on more than a dozen counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance.