A former Bayside physician could be spending a year in jail after admitting on Tuesday to illegally selling diet pills to clients even after his medical license had been revoked, prosecutors announced.
Steven Bernhard, 66, of 213th Street was arrested last August as a result of a lengthy investigation by the New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s office. He pleaded guilty on Jan. 10 to charges of criminal sale of a controlled substance, unauthorized practice of medicine and reckless endangerment.
Law enforcement sources said Bernhard, who received a license to practice medicine in 1977, operated an osteopathic medical practice out of an office located at 39-21 Bell Blvd. in Bayside. His license was revoked in 2013 due to professional misconduct, including over-prescribing medication to clients.
Even so, prosecutors noted, Bernhard continued to see patients out of his Bell Boulevard office and sell them medications including amphetamine diet pills. Among the patients he sold such medication to was a 65-year-old woman with a history of heart issues; in March of 2015, Bernhard provided her with a larger than usual supply of phendimetrazine diet pills. Weeks later, the woman suffered a fatal heart attack while visiting with family members in Florida.
More than 60,000 amphetamine pills and thousands of patient records were seized by investigators during a court-authorized search of Bernhard’s office in 2015. A hard copy of his medical license, which Bernhard had retained even though it had been revoked in order to continue ordering controlled substances from a pharmaceutical wholesaler, was also recovered.
Detectives determined that Bernhard had ordered 1.5 million amphetamine pills from the wholesaler between January 2013 and March 2015. He was also found to have illegally written more than 20 prescriptions to family members for painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet.
Bernhard is scheduled to be sentenced in March.