Tag Archives: drug trafficking

Osceola County Authorities Nab 29 People in Phony Prescription Ring

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A sting on a prescription fraud ring netted 29 arrests in Osceola County, Florida. On December 13, 2012. Osceola County Investigative Bureau (OCIB) agents, along with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Kissimmee Police Department and St. Cloud Police Department conducted an operation nicknamed “Rx Printshop,” according to a press release from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department.

Click here to read the entire press release from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department.

Alleged Criminals Getting Phony Prescriptions Filled at Legitimate Pharmacies.

According to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department, operation “Rx Printshop” targeted a group of people who printed fake prescriptions for painkillers, including oxycodone. The individuals involved would fill the prescriptions at legitimate pharmacies. The pills would then be sold illegally on the streets, according to the sheriff’s department. The people filling the phony prescriptions would be paid with the fraudulently obtained pills for their roles in pretending to be patients.

Those filling the prescriptions are nicknamed “smurfs.” They are usually hired by a drug ring. They return the pills from the prescriptions they get filled back to the ring-leaders. To read a blog on a similar raid in Polk County, click here.

29 People Arrested – More to Come.

According to CF News 13, the phony prescriptions were written using the DEA numbers of unknowing physicians. The physicians apparently have nothing to do with the scheme.

Agents allegedly arrested 29 suspects on felony warrants. Most of them will be charged with conspiracy to traffic drugs, in addition to obtaining prescriptions by fraud, according to CF News 13. Agents are still looking for four suspects who have similar arrest warrants outstanding.

Click here to see a list of those arrested in operation “Rx Printshop,” and those suspects still on the run.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Representing Pharmacists and Pharmacies.
The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, pharmacists and pharmacies in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, administrative hearings and other actions involving health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

As a pharmacist, how do you verify prescriptions you receive are legitimate? As a physician, how do you keep your DEA number safe? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

CF News 13. “29 People Busted in Fake Prescription Sting.” CF News 13. (December 14, 2012). From: http://www.cfnews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2012/12/14/_29_people_busted_in.html

Weiner, Jeff. “Fake-Prescription Ring Busted in Sting.” Orlando Sentinel. (December 15, 2012). From: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-12-14/news/os-prescription-sting-arrests-osceola-20121214_1_prescription-fraud-fraudulent-prescriptions-oxycodone-and-other-drugs

Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. “OCIB Arrests 29 in Operation Rx Printshop.” Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. (December 14, 2012). From: http://www.osceolasheriff.org/sheriff/113-22016-0/ocib_arrests_29_in_operation_rx_printshop.cfm

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

 

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Orlando Pharmacist Accused of Filling Phony Prescriptions for Painkillers

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Sex, prescription drugs and money – sounds like the next big rock ‘n’ roll song, doesn’t it? According to a number of news sources, the owner of an Avalon Park-area pharmacist was allegedly knowingly filling phony prescriptions for painkillers. The pharmacist is also accused of exchanging sex for drugs with at least one woman, according to the Orlando Sentinel. This investigation was led by the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Both agencies simultaneously raided the pharmacy on November 29, 2012.

Avalon Park is a community it the greater Orlando area.

DEA Agents Raided Pharmacy and Pharmacist’s Home.

According to WFTV, the owner of the pharmacy and two employees sat handcuffed outside the pharmacy as federal drug agents reportedly removed boxes of evidence from the pharmacy during the raid. Agents then moved onto the pharmacist’s nearby home.

It’s believed another person was producing fake prescriptions and asking others to get them filled at the Avalon pharmacy and others around town. The people who fill the prescriptions are nicknamed “smurfs.” They are usually hired by a drug ring. They return the pills from the prescriptions they get filled, back to the ring. Click here to read what Papa Smurf has to say about his name being used in such a manner.

According to WFTV, 230 fraudulent prescriptions were produced and 33 were filled at the Avalon-area pharmacy.

Click here to watch WFTV’s report on this raid.

Smurf Allegedly Received Drugs for Sex.

A woman, who worked as a smurf, allegedly told federal agents she had sex with the pharmacist. Afterward, the pharmacist gave her cash and oxycodone, according to the Orlando Sentinel. However, we want to make it clear that those who break the law and get caught often point the finger at innocent people, trying to divert blame from themselves.

To read the article from the Orlando Sentinel, click here.

Charges Being Faced.

The pharmacist faces up to 32 counts of trafficking in controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to traffic. Federal agents believe the pharmacist is part of a larger drug ring.

On the Florida Department of Health (DOH) website his license is still listed as clear/active. To see his license status, click here.

Remember, all who are name or discussed in our blog are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Representing Pharmacists and Pharmacies.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to pharmacists and pharmacies in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

Tell us your thoughts on this story. Are federal drug agents fighting a losing battle? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Barrett, Steve. “Avalon Park Pharmacy Owner Accused of Filling Fake Oxycodone Prescriptions.” WFTV. (November 30, 2012). From: http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/dea-agents-raid-avalon-park-pharmacy/nTJbw/

Pauk, Amy. “Pharmacist Accused of Over-Dispensing Painkillers, Exchanging Pills for Sex.” Orlando Sentinel. (November 29, 2012). From: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-avalon-park-pharmacy-20121129,0,6040870.story

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

More than 30 People Charged with Pharmaceutical Drug Trafficking in Central Florida

By Dr. Thu Pham, O.D., Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm

Attorney General Pam Bondi along with special agent Mark R. Trouville of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Longwood Police Chief Troy Hickson announced, on June 20, 2012, the execution of 37 arrest warrants stemming from state drug charges.  The defendants all reside in Central Florida.

Click here to read the entire press release from the Florida Attorney General.

Charges are Being Handed Down to the Defendants.

The charges for the defendants ranged from first degree to third degree felonies.  The defendants have been charged with acts such as conspiracy to traffic Oxycodone, solicitation to deliver Oxycodone, and possession of Hydromorphone with intent to sell or deliver. 

Law enforcement authorities have been able to apprehend 33 of the 37 charged.

Click here to see our experience representing pharmacists and pharmacies.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Representing Pharmacists and Pharmacies.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to pharmacists and pharmacies in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

myfloridalegal.com. “DEA: 37 Charged in Longwood Local Impact Drug Trafficking Conspiracy.” AG. (June 20, 2012).  From Press Release:

http://www.myfloridalegal.com/newsrel.nsf/newsreleases/9E8D06F29BCB233B85257A230072572A.

Justice.gov. “Law Enforcement Dethrones “Queen” of Longwood, Florida.” DEA, Domestic Field Division. (June 20, 2012).  From Press Release:

http://www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/states/newsrel/2012/mia062012.html

About the Author: Dr. Thu Pham, O.D., is a law clerk with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.

Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

South Florida Painkiller Network Newest Target in String of Florida Pill Mill Raids

Another South Florida pill mill was busted by federal agents this month, adding to Florida’s increasingly negative reputation as one of the worst drug trafficking states.

According to the Miami Herald, 24 people were indicted on charges of defrauding Medicare while distributing oxycodone and oxymorphone across Miami-Dade and Broward counties. These healthcare providers were involved in a distribution network allegedly worth $40 million.

Five pain management clinics in Miami, Hialeah and Plantation served as fronts for the fraud. A physician wrote prescriptions for oxycodone and oxymorphone to beneficiaries of Medicare and other prescription-drug insurance plans at these five clinics. Allegedly, these beneficiary patients were involved in the clinics’ scheme. The patients would then fill the prescriptions at certain pharmacies throughout Miami that were also involved in the network. When the prescriptions were filled, the pharmacy owners would bill Medicare, knowing that the drugs were unnecessary for the patients.

This bust follows a string of other DEA, DOH, and FDLE raids in Florida, including one in August. According to the Miami Herald, August’s Operation Oxy Alley involved pill mills being targeted as organized-crime for the first time. The country’s four largest pain clinics (located in Palm Beach and Broward Counties) were targeted, resulting in the arrest of 32 individuals, including 13 doctors.

Operation Pill Nation, the predecessor to Operation Oxy Alley, targeted pain management clinics in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. An effort to crackdown on Florida pill mills and drug trafficking perpetuated by medical clinics and doctors, Operation Pill Nation and similar investigations have resulted in the shutting down of clinics throughout South Florida according to the Palm Beach Post.

South Florida is not the only region where pill mills are running rampant. The entire state of Florida has been pegged by the DEA as one of the worst in terms of drug trafficking and about 85 percent of all oxycodone sold comes from Florida. Pain management clinics, pharmacies, pharmacists and doctors in Jacksonville, Melbourne, Mount Dora, Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach have been busted by Florida and federal agencies (DEA, DOH, FDLE) for unlawfully dispensing powerful narcotics, like oxycodone, to any patient that came in the door. In one instance, buyers of highly addictive oxycodone and Xanax, came all the way from Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee to get their fix at a Jacksonville pill mill.

The DEA and other federal and state agencies carry out relentless investigations in order to bust these clinics and doctors. Acting as patients, they may bribe a receptionist in order to immediately see a doctor, and then present unrelated symptoms in order to get a narcotics prescription. Drug companies also become involved in targeting pill mills, as they report any clinic or physician who orders narcotics in large quanities (like this Florida doctor who prescribed over 250,000 oxycodone pills in eight months).

Although the crackdown on pill mills and drug trafficking in Florida has eliminated many illegitimate practices, there have been serious consequences for any patient with real pain. Physicians are wary of writing any painkiller prescription, even for a patient whose pain warrants a stronger prescription.

If you are a pharmacist or physician dealing with pain management in Florida, be aware of the recent raids and learn more about what you can do to prevent the DEA, DOH, FDLE or local police from knocking on your door. Visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or read this article on the DEA‘s involvement in the healthcare field for more information.

Florida Doctor Arrested for Drug Sales and Other Criminal Charges

Drug trafficking charges against a medical doctor are not a new concept, especially in Florida. Recent pill mill busts throughout the state have resulted in an omnipresent DEA, always on the lookout for illegal drug sales by pharmacies, pharmacists, pain management clinics and physicians. However, the recent arrest of a Central Florida doctor extends beyond the run of the mill “pill mill” bust, as the accusations in this case involve sex with a minor and delivering a controlled substance to a minor.

According to Florida Today, this Central Florida doctor was arrested Tuesday following a raid by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. This is his second arrest after he was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in August.

Tuesday’s arrest resulted from evidence of the doctor’s sexual relationship with a high school student. The doctor was arrested in 2009 after being caught during a traffic stop with bags of marijuana in his car and allegedly having a sexual relationship with the 16-year-old passenger. Although charges were not filed after the girl recanted her evidence and claimed the marijuana was hers, that didn’t put an end to a steady stream of younger girls going into the clinic. According to residents of the area surrounding the clinic, girls were frequently seen going to see the doctor dressed in revealing attire. Aside from teenage patients, residents reported often seeing a line out to the street for people waiting to get into the clinic, a possible indicator of drug trafficking.

Although his medical license has been suspended, this Florida doctor has yet to receive broader drug trafficking charges, despite his huge prescription distribution numbers. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, this doctor prescribed 250,000 oxycodone pills in the first eight months of 2011. Compared to the entire state of California, which had 300,000 oxycodone prescriptions in the last six months of 2010, it is evident that this Florida doctor had a major painkiller operation. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is calling him one of the worst offenders in the state of Florida. Upon further investigation, this doctor and anyone who may have assisted him in the drug trafficking of oxycodone may be charged for this offense.

While the possibility of drug trafficking charges is enough to scare any physician, other criminal charges can be equally damaging, especially depending on how the accused individuals plea to the charges. A health professional’s plea of nolo contendere, which may seem like the safe route, is actually treated the same as a plea of guilty for all purposes. There are ways to defend criminal charges (like the ones against the aforementioned Florida doctor) that can result in a more favorable outcome (e.g., attempting to obtain pre-trial diversion, pre-trial intervention or drug court), but legal advice should be sought from an attorney who frequently represents health care providers before any actions are pursued. To learn more about criminal charges against doctors and other health professionals see this recent post or visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.