When U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided a Niagara County home this week, they said, they found a disheveled residence littered with needles, crack pipes and other signs of drug abuse.
According to the feds, they also found a local physician, Dr. Daniel Gillick, 62, of Youngstown, getting ready to torch up a crack cocaine pipe with a young, drug-addicted female companion.
Gillick was arrested late Tuesday night, and he appeared in court Wednesday afternoon to face a misdemeanor charge of crack cocaine possession. Other allegations against him are under investigation.
Gillick’s status as an emergency room doctor caused concern to U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. and Dale M. Kasprzyk, agent in charge of the regional DEA office.
They said they put the case on a fast track after learning earlier this month that Gillick was allegedly involved in illegal, heavy drug use while also treating patients in the emergency rooms of hospitals in Central and Western New York.
“We are aware that he was working in emergency rooms. That caused great concern for us,” Hochul said Wednesday.
“We wanted to move this case along as quickly as we possibly could,” Kasprzyk said. “This is a public safety concern. We wanted to cut off any possible access to hospitals, prescriptions and prescription drugs as soon as possible. … We want to make sure this doctor was using good judgment and was using proper medical procedures in treating his patients.”
In court, Gillick told U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott that he makes “good money … $90 to $100 an hour” working in emergency rooms for a Rochester-based company called Delphi Emergency Physician Services. The company provides doctors for duty at a number of hospital emergency rooms in Central and Western New York.
According to court papers, police believe Gillick has recently worked at Medina Memorial Hospital in Medina and at Schuyler Hospital near Watkins Glen. An administrator at Medina Memorial told The Buffalo News he is unaware of Gillick ever working there. Officials of Schuyler Hospital did not return a reporter’s call.
A spokeswoman at the Lockport division of Eastern Niagara Hospital said Gillick has worked there in the past, but she said he has not worked there in four years.
“This investigation is continuing, and we are looking into some other concerns, including [Gillick’s] issuing of prescriptions. We’ll be talking to some of his patients, the state Health Department and his employers, including Delphi Emergency,” Kasprzyk said.
Anyone who wants to provide information about the doctor is asked to call the DEA office at 846-6000.
In a brief telephone interview, Tammy Elie, an official of Delphi Emergency, said Gillick does work for the company and, to her knowledge, does a “wonderful” job.
She declined to comment when asked about the hospitals where he has worked, but she said she is unaware of any complaints about Gillick’s conduct.
Elie said she had not heard about Gillick’s arrest until The News contacted her. She said the company probably would not have more to say until it got information from federal prosecutors.
Looking haggard and exhausted, Gillick, of Main Street in Youngstown, appeared in court before Scott for about 20 minutes. His co-defendant, Christine Guilfoyle, 27, who has been living with Gillick, also appeared in court to face charges filed by prosecutor Timothy C. Lynch.
According to Lynch, Gillick has admitted to federal agents that he is a drug abuser, and Guilfoyle has admitted that she is severely addicted to drugs. Both were represented in court by Daniel P. Greene, a federal public defender, but Gillick said he will get his own attorney before he appears in court again Friday afternoon.
While he makes “good money” as an emergency doctor, Gillick said, he filed for bankruptcy about 18 months ago, and he said the home where he lives is owned by a bank, which foreclosed on him.
Scott said he will allow Gillick to be released after he posts a $5,000 bond.
He also said he will have Gillick examined for drug addiction and that Gillick may have to pay part of the expense of the drug evaluation.
“I think that you think I have money that’s growing on trees,” Gillick told the judge. “I’ve got about $5,000 to $6,000 to my name.”
In court papers, Lynch said DEA agents and other police agencies received information earlier this month that Gillick has been providing his housemate, Guilfoyle, with money to “purchase cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin from multiple sources.”
Tuesday afternoon, agents conducting surveillance spotted Guilfoyle traveling to Niagara Falls in a Jeep Grand Cherokee owned by Gillick. The woman was driving erratically, speeding, running numerous red lights and making illegal U-turns. Agents watched as she made what appeared to be a drug transaction.
Agents said they then stopped Guilfoyle, found cocaine in the vehicle and questioned her.
The cocaine was taken from her, and she agreed to deliver “sham crack cocaine” to Gillick’s home, where both she and Gillick were arrested at about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday.
Speaking in court Wednesday, a tearful Guilfoyle told Scott that she is severely addicted to drugs and is facing criminal charges in several different jurisdictions. She begged the judge to help her get into an inpatient drug treatment program as soon as possible.
“I ask that this process be sped up as much as possible, because I am suffering now from withdrawal symptoms,” Guilfoyle said.
Both the defendants left the courtroom with federal marshals.
Kasprzyk called the case a “sad illustration” of the effects that addictive drugs have had on the local community. “Even doctors are susceptible,” he said.
“But can you imagine having a young kid or someone in your family treated by a doctor on crack cocaine?” another investigator said.
Gillick is the third local doctor to be criminally prosecuted in the past two years in an ongoing crackdown on illegal involvement in drugs by medical professionals.
Hochul’s office is also prosecuting a former Niagara Falls doctor and a former North Tonawanda doctor for allegedly providing painkiller prescriptions to addicts.
The Buffalo FBI office and the Niagara County Drug Task Force assisted in the Gillick probe.