Posted On: April 13, 2012 by Leifert & Leifert

Broward Criminal Defense: Pill Mill Operator Pleads Guilty

A Davie man, identified in media reports as a "pill mill magnate," has pleaded guilty to a host of drug charges in Broward County, and could serve as much as two decades behind bars.
Our Broward County criminal defense attorneys know that federal, state and local officials have been on a war path when it comes to pain clinics across the state. A great deal of press has been given to the "epidemic" of prescription pain killer addiction, and officials have used the term "pill mills" to describe even legal clinics working to serve patients with legitimate pain issues.

While the patients themselves have been the target of many law enforcement efforts, the owners and operators of these clinics have also found themselves in the legal cross hairs of prosecutors.

In this case, a 43-year-old pain clinic operator has pleaded guilty to a host of crimes, including money laundering and tax fraud. In exchange for his testimony against other individuals in the case, prosecutors have agreed to a stiff, 20-year sentence, which could wind up being less depending on how useful his testimony proves.

Prosecutors alleged that among several clinics in Miami-Dade and Broward, he dispensed nearly 700,000 oxycodone pain tablets, raking in a profit of roughly $22 million between 2008 and 2011. In order to bring in patients, the operator reportedly purchased and ran some 1,600 websites. Customers were made to pay in cash, with a payment of $250 for the first visit and $200 for each subsequent visit. Patients who were coming in from out of state had to pay higher rates.

In some instances, patients were made to undergo MRI tests for between $100 and $500. These tests, according to prosecutors, weren't medically legitimate, but rather a scam which would give patients VIP status in obtaining pills. It's also alleged that staff at the clinics forged urine tests that would validate a patient's need for the prescriptions.

The clinic operator reportedly posted advertisements for doctors on Craigslist, retaining only those who were on board with plans to prescribe large quantities of pills.

Defense attorneys had argued that the clinic operator rarely was involved with the day-to-day operations of the clinic, and had hired what he believed to be a capable management staff.

Many local municipalities and counties have passed recent legislation, limiting the number of pain clinics that can operate in a given area and restricting the qualifications for owners and the scope of the operation.

Then last year, the state legislature passed HB 7095. This measure outlined the following guidelines for pain clinic operators:

-Toughened the regulations for writing prescriptions and pain-treatment plans;

-Doctors who over-prescribe pain medications are slapped with a base fine of $10,000 and a six-month license suspension;

-Mandated that doctors use prescription pads that are either counterfeit-proof or electronic. The tablets have to be purchased from a state-approved vendor, which is then required to report those sales each month;

-Made it a high-level misdemeanor for a pharmacist to not report to police a person who is trying to buy prescription drugs under false pretenses;

-Requires pharmacies to report prescription information to the state within a week, rather than two weeks, as they did previously;

-Wholesale pill companies have to report their sales to the state;

-Doctors who work at pain management clinics have to let the state know when they start working at the clinic and when they stop;

-Gave law enforcement the authority to search clinic records without a search warrant.

These overly-broad measures are no doubt going to lead to violations of privacy and an increase in the number of individuals who are arrested for Broward prescription drug crimes.

If you need prescription drug defense in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in South Florida, contact Leifert & Leifert at 954-523-9600 or 561-988-8000 for a free consultation.

Additional Resources:
Pill mill magnate pleads guilty, will hand over $12 million, By Paula McMahon, Sun Sentinel

More Blog Entries:
VA Medical Center Raid Nets 17 Arrests for Drugs in Riviera Beach, Aug. 24, 2011, Broward Criminal Defense Attorney Blog