MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — A Long Island cardiologist had the office of another doctor torched, then hired someone who turned out to be an undercover police officer in a failed attempt to have the doctor hurt or killed, authorities said Wednesday.
Dr. Anthony J. Moschetto allegedly used drugs, guns and blank prescriptions as currency while trying to have the other doctor harmed amid a professional dispute, investigators said. Moschetto first allegedly hired two men to set fire to the man's office; it happened beneath a sprinkler and damage was minimal, prosecutors said.
"He was willing to pay $5,000 to have him beaten and put in the hospital for a couple of months and pay $20,000 to have him killed," Nassau County Assistant District Attorney Anne Donnelly said of Moschetto's intentions. "He wanted to put him out of business so he could get his business."
Acting District Attorney Madeline Singas said "luckily for this victim," Moschetto was stopped.
Investigators who went to Moschetto's home in Sands Point on Long Island's Gold Coast — one of the nation's wealthiest areas — found a weapons cache in a secret room that was accessed through a motorized bookshelf, they said. The weapons, which included dozens of knives, guns and a hand grenade, were displayed at a news conference Wednesday. Possible charges for the stash have not yet been announced.
The investigation into Moschetto started with the purchase of Oxycodone pills, heroin and two fully loaded assault weapons. Prosecutors said Moschetto had paid the undercover police officer $500 to perform a hit before getting arrested. He was caught on undercover video discussing the alleged plot.
Moschetto pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and other charges at his arraignment Wednesday. He left court after posting a $2 million bond and declined to comment. He's due back in court on April 17.
His attorney, Randy Zelin, said the alleged victim was Moschetto's former partner. He was identified in court as Martin Handler. Two orders of protection were issued — one for Handler and one for his wife — that bar Moschetto from contacting them, a prosecutor said. Handler did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Outside the courthouse, Zelin said his client would be "defending himself vigorously." He declined to specify the nature of the dispute, but said it stemmed from what he described as a "business divorce" between Moschetto and Handler.
Two other defendants are charged in the case, accused of their involvement in the office fire, which occurred before the undercover investigation began. They, along with Moschetto, had been arrested Tuesday.
"Dr. Moschetto is a hidden monster living in the North Shore area who has no respect for law and life," said Nassau County Police Department Acting Commissioner Thomas Krumpter. "He had enough weapons to provide a small army means to wreak harm."
The Drug Enforcement Administration also was involved in the investigation, which began in December.