Today’s news:

Little Neck doc exonerated

A 70−year−old Little Neck psychiatrist said he was attempting to rebuild his reputation after a Queens jury acquitted him last month of illegally selling prescriptions to an undercover police officer.

Dr. Nehemia Zedek, an Israeli immigrant who earned his degree from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was arraigned in September 2006 on seven counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance. The doctor, who is in poor health, said he was forced to return to court more than 20 times during a period of two years after the case was repeatedly adjourned.

But a jury determined that Zedek was not guilty following a one−week trial before Queens Supreme Court Justice Stephen Knopf early last month, acquitting him Dec. 12, a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

The DA’s office would not comment on the trial.

“The damage has been huge,” said Maya Zedek, his wife. “He’s been in the community for 40 years. He could not work after he was arrested and patients wouldn’t come in. It was terrible for us.”

The DA had alleged that Zedek sold prescriptions for Xanax and Ativan, powerful anti−anxiety drugs, as well as the narcotic painkiller Vicodin to an undercover officer who was posing as a junkie on four separate occasions between January and June 2006.

Zedek, who has been licensed to practice in the state since 1980, defended prescribing anti−anxiety drugs to patients, even drug addicts. He said he prefers treating patients through therapy rather than medicine, but tranquilizers are sometimes the best form of treatment for people with drug addictions.

“I have no way in my practice to identify a drug addict,” he said in an interview with the TimesLedger shortly after he was arrested. “My feeling is if a person is so anxious as to make up a story that they’re anxious, well maybe they should have a tranquilizer.”

The doctor said before his arrest he met with at least 27 patients per week at his Westmoreland Street home, but now he only has 21 patients per month.

The DA had contended that Zedek sold prescriptions for 60 Xanax pills for $180 during two separate incidents in January and April 2006. He had also been accused of selling a 90−day supply of Xanax and Ativan for $360 in June 2006.

The jury found him innocent of the criminal sale of prescriptions for a controlled substance.

Zedek was 68 years old at the time of his arrest. He suffers from thyroid cancer and wears a pacemaker for heart problems. His wife said arresting officers did not take the doctor’s poor health into consideration during his arrest.

“We have 10 steps at our house and he fell down twice,” she said. “He’s had severe heart conditions for the past 20 years. We called a neighborhood lawyer to help him out [during the arrest], but the police did not listen that he was very sick.”

The doctor said he was in jail for 28 hours without medicine for his various ailments following the arrest. He said he was placed in a cell with 30 to 40 young men.

“They were very nice to me,” he said. “They said, ‘Papa, sit down.’ ”

His wife said she was angry that the case continued to be postponed during the past two years. She said the delays damaged Zedek’s practice.

“He’s wanted to prove his righteousness,” she said.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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