NYC Psychiatrist Leon Valbrun Charged with Selling Controlled Substances for Cash

November 25, 2020

MIDTOWN MANHATTAN, NY — A Manhattan psychiatrist and his assistant have been arrested and charged with selling addictive narcotics in exchange for cash without any medical justification, authorities announced Tuesday.

Dr. Leon Valbrun, 67, a Long Island resident, and his assistant, Po Yu "Brian" Yen, 34, of Queens, were arrested Monday evening at Valbrun's office at 37 East 28th St. in the NoMad neighborhood of Midtown, city prosecutors said.

Both were charged with more than a dozen counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance.

"The allegations in this case could not be more stark: a purported psychiatry office issued prescriptions for controlled substances upon request in exchange for cash, endangering the lives of New Yorkers," Bridget G. Brennan, the city's special narcotics prosecutor, said in a statement.

Valbrun holds a faculty position at Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn, but police said none of his alleged crimes relate to his work there.

Police began investigating Valbrun during the summer of 2019 after receiving complaints of increasing "drug-seeking activity" in front of Valbrun's office. Investigators found online reviews alleging that Valbrun had referenced overdoses and discussed selling Xanax and Adderall for cash, police said.

Starting in January, two undercover NYPD officers posed as patients, went to Valbrun's office and received prescriptions for alprazolam and amphetamine without ever being examined by him, according to police. Instead, they met with Yen, who police said has no training or authority to prescribe controlled substances.

During the first visit on Jan. 11, the officer told Yen she wanted a Xanax prescription because she was addicted and Yen said he would start her on another medication before switching her to Xanax, police said. The officer paid $300 cash and got a prescription, later paying $120 for a Xanax prescription during one of five subsequent visits, police said.

During later visits, the officer interacted directly with Valbrun and received increasingly higher dosages, police said. A second officer who began visiting the office in March asked for a Xanax prescription in order to help him stave off his heroin and oxycodone addictions and was likewise given a prescription in Valbrun's name, according to authorities.

A message sent to an email address listed for Valbrun was not immediately returned Tuesday.

The investigation was conducted by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor's office, the NYPD, the York City Human Resources Administration and the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General.

Source: Nick Garber, “Manhattan Psychiatrist Sold Drugs For Cash, Police Say,” The Patch, Nov. 24, 2020, URL:


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