Judge drops strangulation charges against doctor

Judge drops strangulation charges against doctor
A Nassau County judge dropped strangulation charges against Dr. Venkatesh Sasthakonar. (Photo courtesy of Nassau University Medical Center)

A Nassau County judge on Tuesday dropped the charges against Dr. Venkatesh Sasthakonar, a surgeon from Albertson who had been accused of trying to strangle a nurse at a hospital.

In January, police arrested the 44-year-old Nassau University Medical Center surgeon on charges of second-degree strangulation and third-degree assault after he was accused of wrapping an elastic cord around the neck of a 51-year-old female nurse following a disagreement.

Nassau County District Judge Martin Massell dismissed the case after a request made by Assistant District Attorney Stacey Blanshaft, according to Newsday.

“After thoroughly reviewing this case, interviewing witnesses and analyzing surveillance video, it has been determined there is not enough evidence to support that a crime occurred,” Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for the Nassau County district attorney’s office, said in a statement. “Therefore, we are recommending the charges against Doctor Sasthakonar be dismissed.”

Due to HIPPA regulations there are no video surveillance cameras in that area of the hospital and therefore no video surveillance of the incident, according to Nassau County police.

The surgeon’s defense attorney, Bruce Barket of Garden City, could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

Barket told Newsday that the Police Department could have “taken a step back and not acted so quickly.”

“You know, investigate first and arrest second, maybe?” Barket said.

In a statement, Nassau County police said that officers responded to the hospital over a reported assault.

“The victim, who was being treated for injuries, stated they occurred as a result of a confrontation with the defendant,” police said. “Based on this sworn statement, as well as medical records, probable cause existed to effect the arrest of the defendant and he was placed into custody.”

Barket told Newsday there will likely be further litigation “with respect to the individual who … literally made stuff up and put it in a sworn statement.”

Sasthakonar told Newsday that he was relieved by the outcome of the case.

“People ask me if I’m angry, how do I feel? I’m not angry,” Sasthakonar said. “I’m just disappointed.”

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