New York Levels Allegations Against Shrink Next Door Doctor
The New York Department of Health lays out details of alleged misconduct from two of Dr. Isaac Herschkopf’s former patients ahead of a September hearing.
By Joe Nocera
August 6, 2019
New York health officials posted a series of allegations concerning Isaac Herschkopf, the psychiatrist who was the subject of the Bloomberg podcast The Shrink Next Door, accusing him of exploiting patients for his own financial gain.
The allegations and attendant charges were accompanied by a “Notice of Hearing” that had been sent to Herschkopf and were posted on the website of the New York State Department of Health on Monday August 5. (You can read the document here.) In the podcast, Herschkopf’s former patient, Marty Markowitz, had alleged that, over a span of nearly three decades, Herschkopf had taken control of almost every aspect of his life. Markowitz had even written a will giving his multi-million dollar estate to a foundation he had started with Herschkopf—and that Herschkopf would have controlled after his death.
In 2016, six years after breaking with Herschkopf, Markowitz filed a formal complaint against the psychiatrist with the division of New York’s Department of Health known as the State Board for Professional Medical Conduct. As he noted in episode six, he was frustrated that he had seen little evidence of progress over the ensuing three years; whenever he inquired with the department, he was simply told “it’s under investigation.”
Soon after the podcast aired, Markowitz received a series of phone calls from Daniel Guenzburger, a lawyer with the health department. Guenzburger asked Markowitz for details about his relationship with Herschkopf, and he also interviewed a second patient, “Patient B,” who, according to people familiar with the matter, was the woman in episode four identified with the pseudonym “Emily.”
The Department of Health then drafted a series of allegations, based on the patients’ statements, as well as charges predicated on those allegations, and set a hearing date for September 24. The document includes allegations that Herschkopf became a joint owner of his patient’s Swiss bank account, used his patient’s Southampton home free of charge, and made his patient perform “hundreds of hours of secretarial services.” The document also includes an allegation of “inappropriate physical touching” of Patient B by Herschkopf. Since I first began reporting on this story in 2012, Herschkopf has consistently said he has done nothing inappropriate.
The Department of Health charges are not criminal in nature. Also, as the document says on the very first page, these are “only allegations.” At the hearing, Herschkopf will be able to contest them, including questioning witnesses and introducing evidence. He is required to submit written responses to the allegations at least ten days before the hearing.
Once the hearing is over, “in the event any of the charges are sustained,” the board will determine what penalty, if any, should be imposed, according to the document. It adds, “These proceedings may result in a determination that your license to practice medicine in New York State be revoked or suspended, and/or that you be fined or subject to other sanctions.”
I reached out to Herschkopf by phone and by email for comment. He hasn’t responded yet. Once the board makes its final determination, we will report its conclusion in an episode of The Shrink Next Door.