Fake Doctor Pleads Guilty in Patient's Death

A fake doctor and cocaine addict pleaded guilty Monday in connection with the death of a woman who died during a medical procedure he was performing on her in his Manhattan apartment more than two years ago.

Dean Faiello, 47, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in the death of Maria Cruz, 35, in exchange for a sentence of 20 years in prison. The charge says he acted under conditions showing a "depraved indifference to human life."

Cruz, a Barclay's Capital financial analyst, went to Faiello's West 16th Street apartment on April 13, 2003, for laser treatments of hair growth on her tongue. He admitted he began by injecting her with the anesthetic Lidocaine.

Faiello, questioned by state Supreme Court Justice Gregory Carro, admitted that after Cruz began having seizures, he called a real doctor for advice, and then ignored the advice. He said he also failed to call 911.

Faiello had already been indicted in October 2002 for practicing medicine without a license. He said he failed to contact anybody to help Cruz because he was worried about the legal "ramifications" for himself.

Assistant District Attorney Ann Prunty asked Faiello, "In fact, she died in that apartment?"

"That's correct," the defendant replied.

Carro asked Faiello whether he was, at that time, "addicted to cocaine, using cocaine," and the defendant replied, "Yes, that is true."

Cruz' body was found Feb. 18, 2004, under a concrete slab in the basement of Faiello's former home in Newark, N.J., 10 months after she vanished.

Faiello, meanwhile, fled to Central America after pleading guilty in June 2003 to the unlicensed practice of medicine charge, which is punishable by up to four years in prison. In May 2004, he was extradited from Costa Rica where he had been working as a go-go dancer in a bar.

Faiello's attorney left court without comment.