District Attorney

Posted on: September 5, 2014

Former Bethpage Pediatrician Pleads Guilty to Sexually Abusing Young Girls

Rakesh Punn, 56, drugged and abused girls in his doctor’s office MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that a pediatrician pleaded guilty today to drugging and sexually abusing young girls under the guise of a medical examination in his Bethpage doctor’s office. Rakesh Punn, of Bethpage, pleaded guilty today before Nassau County Court Judge William Donnino to two counts of Criminal Sale of a Prescription for a Controlled Substance (a C felony) and one count of Sexual Abuse in the 1st Degree (a D violent felony). Punn faces 15 years in prison in this case. As a condition of his plea, Punn will be required to register as a sex offender upon completion of his sentence. He also agreed to forfeit $2,113,994 – criminal proceeds of the medical practice that was used to directly and materially aid Punn to commit these felony crimes. Punn pleaded guilty in November 2012 in a separate case to Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree (a C felony), two counts of Welfare Fraud in the 3rd Degree (a D felony) and Scheme to Defraud in the 1st Degree (an E felony) for stealing more than $120,000 in taxpayer money through health insurance and welfare fraud. He faces one to three years in prison in this case. He is due back in court to be sentenced in the sexual abuse and fraud cases on Dec. 5. Punn also pleaded guilty to federal sexual abuse charges in April. He faces 15 to 30 years on those charges, and has not yet been sentenced. “For these young girls, a routine trip to the doctor’s office ended in a nightmare that they will likely carry with them for the rest of their lives,” DA Rice said. “Instead of caring for his patients, this defendant drugged and sexually abused them. Thankfully, he will soon face the consequences of his many crimes.” Punn was arrested on July 16, 2010 on charges that he drugged, sexually abused, and videotaped young female patients in his office. One victim was 11 years old. Punn did all this while telling the girls that these were medically necessary examinations. DA Rice said that as early as 2007, Punn obtained video footage and still photographs of at least five young girls in his office. Punn would get video footage in two different ways. First, he would have them disrobe, lie on the examining table, and cover their eyes with gauze and a blindfold. He would then videotape or photograph his sexual contact with them. Investigators say that Punn touched and manipulated the girl’s genitals. In many instances, Punn would give the girls a sedative to render them unconscious. In other instances, he would have the girl stand in his office, while a small digital camera hidden among objects on his desk recorded video. Punn would then have the victim expose her breasts in various positions while being taped. Punn did all this while telling the girls that these were medically necessary examinations. Punn also duped some of the girls into signing a “contract” that said that they were 18 years old and willing to perform numerous sexual acts on Punn. In addition to the assaults and sexual abuse, Punn wrote prescriptions for chloral-hydrate, a controlled substance, and gave the prescriptions to patients or another person. He would then trick the patients into filling prescriptions and bringing them back to him, under the guise of compounding a special drug or "checking" the prescription. Punn then secretly removed the bottle of chloral-hydrate and kept it for himself. Pursuant to a search warrant of his office, three bottles of chloral-hydrate were recovered, with prescription labels in patient's names. A search of his home revealed a large amount of cash and a forged international driver’s license with his photo, but a false name and birth date. The investigation began with a tip to DA Rice’s office and was investigated by the NCPD’s DA Squad and members of the NCPD’s Crimes Against Property Squad. During the course of the DA’s Office’s investigation into Punn, it was discovered that Punn had assisted numerous friends, family members, and patients in falsifying personal information on applications for medical coverage under the taxpayer-funded Child Health Plus (CHP) and Medicaid programs. Punn submitted applications on behalf of his patients with false employment and income information that underreported the household income. As a result, said patients were able to avoid paying the family contribution to the premiums, with New York State paying the entire CHP premium and costing state taxpayers of approximately $88,000. In addition, Punn directed his wife, daughter and son to obtain Medicaid coverage by submitting applications with false address and income information. Punn’s wife and daughter received more than $34,000 worth of taxpayer-funded health coverage to which they were not entitled. Deputy Chief Anne Donnelly of DA Rice’s Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau and Deputy Chief Andrew Weiss of DA Rice’s Economic Crimes Bureau are prosecuting the sexual abuse case. In addition, Deputy Chief Weiss is prosecuting the health insurance and welfare fraud case for the DA’s Government and Consumer Fraud Bureau. Bureau Chief Rebecca Winer of DA Rice’s Civil Forfeiture Bureau filed the forfeiture action against Punn and his medical practice. Punn is represented by John Pedranghelu, Esq. and Steve Zissou, Esq. ###

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