Local doctor pleads not guilty in court Wednesday

Updated: 02/19/2014 6:30 PM
Created: 02/18/2014 8:30 PM WHEC.com

His body was found partially buried in the backyard of a local psychiatrist and his mother said she cannot get an answer to her one burning question, how did her son die?

Matthew Straton's mother said that after the arraignment of Dr. William Lewek Wednesday morning. Lewek is accused of burying Straton's body in the backyard of his Park Avenue neighborhood home. Police say it was the backyard of Dr. Lewek's home. 

It's hard to imagine the pain Straton’s mother is going through, sitting in a courtroom looking at the man accused of burying her son. That man, Dr. William Lewek walked into court Wednesday. He pleaded not guilty to tampering with evidence and cocaine possession. 

Again, Lewek is accused of moving the body of Matthew Straton from the third floor of Lewek's home. Police say Lewek buried Straton's body in the back yard under dirt, leaves and a lawn chair. He is not charged in the death of Matthew Straton. But how Matthew died is the one thing his mother wants to know. 

Kim Straton, Matthew’s mother, said, “I'd like to know what happened to my son. Matt is not here to defend himself. I have a feeling I’m going to be doing a lot of defending for my son.”

Berkeley Brean asked, “Is Dr. Lewek still allowed to see patients?”

Matthew Parrinello, Lewek's attorney, said, “No, we're voluntarily not seeing patients at this point in time.  Nothing has happened with regard to his license.”

The doctor's lawyer says that he is voluntarily not seeing patients, but still has his medical license. 

How can someone accused of this kind of crime still be licensed to practice medicine in New York? This is what the state health department says: “While the confidentiality provisions of Public Health Law Section 230 preclude the Department of Health (DOH) from discussing any particular case, in general, if a physician is arrested for a crime, DOH Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) may review the case and communicate with the arresting authorities. An arrest is not defined as misconduct under State Education Law; in order to constitute misconduct, the licensee must be convicted of a crime.”

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