An 82-year-old Florida man pleaded guilty on October 15, 2015 in federal court in Maryland to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and other drugs at a pill mill in Maryland. According to the defendant’s plea agreement, the Maryland pill mill was an off-shoot of the Florida pill mill that he operated in Deerfield Beech, Florida, from March 2010 through February 2011.
The defendant was not a medical doctor but nonetheless opened and operated his pain management clinic in Florida that he called Total Care Medical Center. The defendant allegedly established the standard operating procedures for the clinic, including determining which controlled substances the prescribing physician could prescribe and the maximum dosages of the drugs. The clinic accepted cash payments from customers who did not have a legitimate medical need for the large amount of prescription drugs that included oxycodone and alprazolam.
The Maryland Connection
In late 2010 and early 2011, two Maryland co-conspirators traveled to Florida to learn from the defendant how to operate a pain management clinic. By early 2011, the defendant and the two Maryland co-conspirators agreed to open a similar pain management clinic in Maryland, and they opened a pain management clinic in Maryland with the defendant as part owner. The defendant allegedly interviewed and hired medical directors at the Maryland pain clinic whom he believed would write prescriptions for narcotics for customers without a legitimate medical need.
The Maryland pain management clinic outgrew its original location and moved into a larger facility in October 2011. The Maryland business grew to the point that its customers, over 80% of whom came from outside of Maryland, were causing disturbances by using narcotics and by selling narcotics just outside of the clinic facility. It is reported that about 97% of the Maryland pain clinic’s customers who received prescriptions from the clinic obtained at least one prescription for oxycodone.
In 2011, the defendant allegedly received $165,000 from his 30% ownership of the Maryland pill mill operation. From June 2011 through April 2012, the defendant was paid $12,000 per month for his interest in the Maryland pill mill.
The defendant faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on March 7, 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. As part of the defendant’s plea agreement in Maryland, he also pleaded guilty to a charge filed in the Southern District of New York for conspiring to distribute oxycodone and other drugs.
In announcing the defendant’s plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney for Maryland stated, “State and federal authorities are continuing to look at ways to shut down ‘pain clinics’ that are really just fronts for criminals who divert pharmaceutical drugs and hook a new generation of addicts. [The defendant] traveled from state to state setting up clinics that prescribed opioid drugs to people who had no medical need for the drugs.”
One of the federal investigators involved with the investigation and prosecution of the defendant stated, “This pill mill operator case shows the complexity of the drug abuse cycle and how law enforcement must take a multi-tiered approach in dealing with prescription drug abuse and the connected abuse of heroin. When users of prescription medications, especially opiate derivatives like oxycodone, become abusers of the medication, they often find themselves switching from oxycodone to a cheaper drug such as heroin. In doing so, a new generation of heroin addicts are created, which leads to an increase in cases of heroin overdoses we see every day in this nation.”
If you were harmed as a result of medical negligence in Maryland, you should promptly find a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a Maryland medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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