NYPD doctor told cop with thyroid cancer, ankle injury that he’s faking, shouldn’t miss work: suit

An NYPD doctor repeatedly accused of bullying sick cops for taking leave told one officer with recurrent thyroid cancer his bout “was not serious’’ nor “an excuse to miss work,” new court papers allege.

“He’s very rude, he’s not empathetic at all and he makes you seem like you’re useless and a waste,” Officer Luis Montes told the Post about Dr. John Santucci — the namesake son of the late Queens DA.

Montes, who works in the Transit District 20, says because he went on restricted duty, he was forced to start seeing Santucci at least once a month starting in October 2020 for multiple health issues — including thyroid cancer and a torn ankle injury he suffered on the job, a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit from last week claims.

NYPD Deputy Chief Santucci, 62, who is affiliated with NYU Langone, allegedly told Montes he was faking the ankle tear that required two surgeries — and downplayed the cop’s cancer, telling him: “you’re fine;” “you are faking your injuries;” “the cancer is not that serious;” and “cancer was not an excuse to miss work,” the filing alleges.

Cop Luis Montes sued an NYPD doctor who he claims harassed him for taking sick leave for health issues including recurrent thyroid cancer.
Matthew McDermott

The 34-year veteran cardiologist — an NYPD surgeon for 11 years — tried to force Montes to go back to work the following day each time he called out sick, berated Montes, and ignored notes from doctors treating Montes who recommended rest and healing, the suit claims

“He’s a tyrant,” Montes, 53, of Seaford, NY told the Post. “It’s his way or the highway.”

“It’s been very stressful,” said the cop, who’s been on the force since 2005. “My blood pressure is always high when I go to see him.”

Montes was first diagnosed with stage-four thyroid cancer in 2017 and had to undergo procedures to remove 30 of his lymph nodes — 21 of which were cancerous, the filing says.

Dr. John Santucci is pictured
Montes claims that Dr. John Santucci downplayed his cancer and accused him of faking an ankle injury that required two surgeries.
NYU Langone Health

The cancer went into remission but returned in 2023; he now has lesions and scar-tissue on his throat that cause a strangling sensation and make it difficult for him to swallow, the suit and Montes claim.

Montes also suffered a severe ankle injury in January 2021 when he slipped and fell down a stairway in a subway station while on the job.

The accident tore the ligaments and tendons in his ankle and ultimately required two surgeries, the court papers claim.

Luis Montes is pictured
Montes said that the doctor told him the cancer isn’t serious and said “you’re fine.”
Matthew McDermott

Montes said he’ll never walk without a limp and has developed arthritis in the ankle that leaves him in constant pain.

But Santucci “would accuse [Montes] of faking his ankle injures” and repeatedly tried to get him to return to work, though the MD stripped him of his gun and shield, the court papers claim.

Yet an MRI vindicated Montes, who ended up needing a second surgery.

“I had the surgery and they tried to rush me back to work,” Montes said, adding he took three-months leave to make sure the injury healed properly.

And while Montes was out of work, walking on crutches and wearing a boot, he said he would get checked on by the NYPD three or four times a week to verify he was actually out sick.

Montes — who had minor heart surgery in 2017 — said when he told the doctor about having tachycardia (fast) and bradycardia (slow) heart rate issues, Santucci “scoffed” at the diagnosis and told Montes there was nothing wrong with him, the filing alleges.

According to Montes, one time when he called out to see his doctor, the department called and texted him and even called his wife.

When he finally picked up and told them where he was, two officers immediately pulled up behind him at the hospital to verify he was telling the truth, Montes said.

Dr. John Santucci is pictured
Santucci has been sued by other sick cops who claim they were bullied by him.

“That’s embarrassing, humiliating, stressful and crazy,” he said. “This is how you treat police officers that have cancer?”

Montes said in addition to the poor treatment he got from Santucci, it was like pulling teeth to get the NYPD to accommodate his needs — including getting off the night shift to work days instead.

Montes said despite having cancer, he’s forced to continue to work in the transit unit in the subways, which he called “the filthiest environment.” He works the switchboard for the unit but must do so at the unit location underground.

“I’m trapped for the next three years” — when he’d be eligible for retirement, Montes said.

Luis Montes is pictured
Montes was forced to visit the doctor at least one a month starting in October 2020.
Matthew McDermott

“To date the Defendants have refused to find Plaintiff a permanent accommodation,” the suit charges.

Montes’ lawyer John Scola, told the Post the department could easily accommodate officers with health issues, noting there are a slew of desk jobs.

“The NYPD continues to implement illegal policies in which they refuse to accommodate disabled employees, despite having thousands of positions those employees could work,” Scola said. “The legal woes are compounded when they use Dr. John Santucci and other district surgeons to implement these hostile policies, abusing officers with cancer in the process.”

Scola represents other cops who sued over Santucci’s alleged mistreatment — including officer Destiny McCann who had recurrent breast cancer and a stroke and was forced to quit because of the doctor, her suit claimed.

Luis Montes is pictured
Montes said the visits to the doctor were very stressful because he allegedly berated him.
Matthew McDermott

“Dr. Santucci followed all rules and regulations,” said Chris Monahan, the president of the Captain’s Endowment Association, the union to which Santucci belongs. “Officers who are out for an extended period of time are referred to an independent medical board to determine if they’re physically fit for duty.
Not Dr. Santucci.”

Officer Edward Donzelli filed a $5 million notice of claim with the city over the doctor’s alleged harassment.

The city Law Department and the NYPD both declined to comment. Santucci didn’t return a request for comment.

Additional reporting by Amanda Woods

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