Ex-Ridgewood Surgeon Facing Drug Charges

Prosecutors say Dr. Mary Ann Benigno wrote faulty prescriptions, doled out oxycodone, amphetamine salts and other drugs to patients but kept some for personal use.

A breast cancer surgeon who formerly worked in Ridgewood is facing drug charges following a five-month investigation, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli announced Thursday.

Authorities claim Dr. Mary Ann Benigno, 52, of Saddle River, improperly wrote and dispensed prescriptions for hydrocodone, oxycodone, amphetamine salts and methylphenidate for patients from January through November of this year. Methylphenidate and amphetamine are used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 

Licensed to practice medicine in both New York and New Jersey, Benigno is accused of picking the drugs up at a Rochelle Park pharmacy, distributing some to patients while keeping an unspecified quantity for personal use.

She was freed on $50,000 bail Thursday, according to jail records. 

A woman at Benigno's private practice, Total Care Rehab Union City, said she "could not disclose any information."

The surgeon was an attending physician at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood until December of 2010, according to hospital staff. Though her name was listed at a medical office at 145 Prospect Street in Ridgewood, an office employee said Benigno "hasn't practiced there in several months."

Benigno is also affiliated with Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck. 

"Dr. Benigno is an associate member of our medical staff, which means that she treats a minimal number of patients on an infrequent basis here," Holy Name spokeswoman Barbara Franzese Cron told Patch Thursday. "Her privileges with Holy Name are due to expire at the end of the year and she has not reapplied."

Jeff Lamm, a spokesman for the Division of Consumer Affairs, said Benigno's medical license was active in New Jersey. 

"The licensing board is aware of her arrest and the board can take action against her license," he said. 

The New York Health Department said they were also aware of the charges, adding that her license remains valid in the state and no disciplinary action has been taken. They could not disclose if she is currently under investigation.

Benigno was charged with purposely distributing, dispensing or possessing with the intent to distribute greater than one ounce of hydrocodone, a second degree charge; and purposely distributing, dispensing or possessing with intent to distribute less than one ounce of amphetamine salts and methylphenidate, a third degree charge.

The investigation remains active, according to authorities. Detectives are reviewing medical records and patient files for all prescriptions written by Benigno in 2012, Molinelli said.

Mikka H December 01, 2012 at 12:32 AM
52 ? woah.....leave us stop taking the pills there sister..... it ain't helping ya age well......


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