Doctor who traded opioid prescriptions for explicit photos gets a least 6.5 years in state prison

Jim Melwert
August 08, 2019 - 7:32 pm

Montgomery County District Attorney's Office

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A Norristown doctor has been sentenced to six-and-a-half to 15 years in state prison for offering prescriptions for opioids and other drugs in exchange for explicit photos and videos of young women.

As he handed down the sentence, Judge William Carpenter told 57-year-old Joseph Cipriano that people put their trust and their lives in the hands of their doctors, but Cipriano abused that trust "in a very dangerous way."

Prosecutor Jim Price said Cipriano encouraged his female patients to use Snapchat to communicate with him, because the app does not save messages.

Related: 4 Montco doctors accused of illegally prescribing opioids, other prescription drugs

Price contended that Cipriano knows all about addiction since he is qualified to prescribe treatments like Suboxone. But instead of treating addiction, “he knew he could give them what they wanted and they’d give him what he wanted.”

"Some of these people came to him because they knew they could do this, they could get in on this arrangement. But most of these people were going there because they were getting Suboxone, and he was taking advantage of that," Price argued.

He said the act was like that of a street-level dealer, but worse.

"It’s public corruption," said Price. "He’s given the privilege to prescribe medications, and he’s decided to use it for his own personal, sexual interest."

Cipriano’s lawyer, Tim Woodward, argued for a lesser sentence, pointing out that Cipriano “treated the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the sick.” Woodward said Cipriano's practice was his life, but now that he has been stripped of his medical license, he said his reputation has been destroyed.