Amherst man charged with extorting doctor and family

Posted at 12:46 PM, Jun 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-01 16:38:12-04

An Amherst man stands accused of terrorizing a doctor and his family as part of an elaborate and bizarre plot to extort money.

Federal prosecutors have charged Gary Drago, 56, with intimidation of a witness and making a threatening communication to extort money.

According to investigators, Drago extorted money from the doctor and his practice, Meridian Medicine, at 2821 Wehrle Drive in Lancaster over a span of four years.

A criminal complaint says Drago initially asked for small amounts of money in the form of loans before eventually forcing the doctor to enter into a business relationship with him.

The scheme came to a dramatic end on May 19th when investigators say Drago ordered an employee of Meridian Medicine, whom he talked to in the parking lot, to go inside and order all patients into the reception area and all employees in the front office area. Prosecutors say Drago then went inside himself and walked out with his hand on the doctor's neck. He then ordered the doctor to get into his car.

The complaint states the doctor's wife called the FBI later that day to say she was being threatened by Drago and had received a call from her husband that he would not be coming home that night. A special agent contacted the doctor by phone. The doctor told the agent "everything is fine" and that what he and his wife had previously told the FBI was "all a bunch of lies."

A short time later, officers stopped the vehicles of both the doctor and Drago. According to the federal complaint, it was then when the doctor told investigators "I was in fear of my life and my family's life and I did exactly what he told me to do."

Drago was arrested the following day. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.