Orleans County Court
Former Nunda physician’s assistant jailed on drug conviction
ALBION — Telling him his actions had ramifications throughout Western New York communities dealing with an epidemic of prescription drug problems, a judge Monday sentenced a physician’s assistant to six months in jail Monday for his role in an extensive prescription drug-selling ring.
Charles Livingston, 56, of Nunda will also be on probation for five years in a sentence handed down by Judge James Punch in Orleans County Court.
Livingston, who operated Southern Tier Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Geneseo and Warsaw, was arrested in late March 2010 after a far-reaching investigation by police agencies from Orleans and surrounding counties.
He was accused of stealing more than $500,000 worth of prescription sheets from doctors, including several at Wyoming County Community Hospital.
Livingston gave the sheets to a network of people, including a professional football player from Greece and his girlfriend, who in turn would sell the sheets or forge prescriptions and sell prescription drugs on the street.
Why Livingston did so was never fully explained but both he and his attorney, Michael Miller, told Punch that Livingston feared for his safety and that of his family.
“He is here because of very poor judgement,” Miller said. “He felt he had to get involved in this prescription thing out of fear for his family’s safety.”
Miller said Livingston feared Jason Coley, a member of the Rochester Raiders professional indoor soccer team.
Coley was arrested along with Livingston. He eventually pleaded guilty to reduced charges and was sentenced to six months in jail and five years probation.
Livingston told Punch he made a mistake.
“For 56 years I have operated my life …with loyalty and integrity,” he said. “I made a mistake two years ago, thinking how I can protect my family. There hasn’t been a day gone by that I haven’t regretted it. I’m sorry for what’s happened to them.”
District Attorney Joseph Cardone requested a prison term for Livingston.
Cardone discounted Livingston’s claims at being threatened.
“This defendant is responsible for thousands of prescription pills being sold on the street,” he said. “Who knows what effect that has had.”
A pre-sentence investigation by Orleans County Probation Department recommended a probation sentence for Livingston, who has no criminal history, but Punch opted for some jail time.
Punch agreed with Cardone.
“I don’t understand the motive behind this,” he said. “You didn’t seem to benefit financially from this and you don’t seem the shy, retiring type that could be easily pushed into this.”
Punch said Livingston is not the typical criminal, with no prior history, a strong family background and a successful business.
“But prescription drugs are the biggest blight on communities,” he said. “We have to deal with it across the board and you contributed greatly to that.”
Punch said he has to consider Livingston’s background for sentencing “but I also have to consider the result of your action, which is devastating.”
The investigation leading to Livingston’s arrest came when Coley’s girlfriend, Stephanie Rumpf, 30, of Greece, was arrested in Albion and charged with selling prescription drugs.
That led investigators to Coley and, eventually, to Livingston, who served as medical director for Rochester Raiders.
Rumpf pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
Livingston had been indicted and charged with 25 various counts, including first-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, the most severe drug charge in the state. It carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison.
He pleaded guilty in January to a single count of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.
Livingston also was arrested in Wyoming County and charged with grand larceny and criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance.
He is to be sentenced Thursday in Wyoming County Court.
Before Livingston was led away to jail, Punch offered him a last bit of advice.
“You’re not being honest with yourself,” Punch said. “When you are alone and not trying to impress anyone, think about this and the ways you can correct it. You have a lot of people who rely on you. I hope you can be the kind of father and everything else you were.”