Long Island Pediatrician Pleads Guilty to Child Sexual Exploitation
Earlier today, Rakesh K. Punn, a licensed medical doctor and pediatrician, pleaded guilty to child sexual exploitation. Today’s plea took place before United States District Judge Joanna Seybert. At sentencing, Punn faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years in prison.
The plea was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
“We trust doctors—especially pediatricians—to care for our children. The defendant took advantage of that trust in the most egregious manner,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “He took advantage of children who came to him for medical help. In doing so, he not only violated the criminal law but betrayed his oath as a licensed physician to do no harm.” Ms. Lynch thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, the Nassau County Police Department, and the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and High Technology Investigative Unit (HTIU) for their joint investigation leading up to this case.
According to previous court filings, between September 6, 2007 and January 21, 2008, Punn sexually exploited three minor pediatric patients, under the guise of medical treatment, at his home office in Bethpage, New York, and recorded the activities. Punn also submitted fraudulent insurance claims for the purported treatment of those three children and three other pediatric patients, when, in fact, the purported treatments had not been conducted for any medically accepted purpose, but rather, solely for the sexual gratification of the defendant.
Nassau County law enforcement authorities initially arrested Punn on July 15, 2010, and subsequently filed an indictment that charged Punn with multiple counts of violating New York State sexual abuse and fraud laws, based on his conduct, which allegedly included recording sexually explicit activity involving his minor patients during their visits to his office, located in his home in Bethpage, New York. Those charges remain pending. On January 4, 2012, a federal indictment was filed that charged Punn with sexual exploitation of children and health care fraud. Punn has remained in custody since his initial arrest.
This prosecution is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Eastern District of New York Assistant United States Attorney Allen L. Bode and Department of Justice Trial Attorney Amy Larson.
Rakesh K. Punn
Bethpage, New York