Joseph Zito, NY Psychiatrist, Arrested for selling drugs out of his apartment with no medical examination


Daily News (New York)
March 06, 1998

Psychiatrist Joseph Zito

Psychiatrist Joseph Zito

A West Side psychiatrist was arrested yesterday for allegedly peddling prescriptions for tranquilizers out of his Central Park West apartment.

Joseph Zito’s arrest capped a five-month undercover state investigation during which he allegedly wrote and sold prescriptions for Xanax and Klonopin to an investigator without any medical examination.

Zito, 57, also allegedly sold the state’s Medicaid fraud squad investigator three prescriptions for a fictitious wife, officials said.

Zito was paid $ 160 for each of the nine prescriptions, which state investigators said they got from the doctor from September through February, the officials said.

“Zito flagrantly disregarded the law and his own Hippocratic oath by enabling anyone with cash to obtain powerful drugs with no consideration to the health of the buyer,” state Attorney General Dennis Vacco said.

Xanax is the leading brand-name tranquilizer prescribed by doctors. Klonopin is prescribed to prevent seizures. Both are popular with heroin addicts and are extremely addictive.

Recovering addicts use Xanax because it enhances the effect of methadone, which doctors prescribe to wean people off heroin.

Klonopin is also popular with recovering addicts because it helps replace the heroin high. But it’s also been used with heroin to increase the high.

Zito’s neighbors in the 410-unit Century apartment building on Central Park West expressed shock at his arrest. A family friend who asked to remain anonymous said he was stunned.

“Imagine someone you’ve known all your life suddenly being arrested for something like this,” the friend said.

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Joseph Zito