Articles Posted in Drug Diversion

PhotobucketTAMPA (June 21) – Today, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington granted the defendant’s motion for a downward variance from the sentence recommended by the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines. As I sat in court and listened, I could not help but be very impressed with Judge Covington’s keen insight into the application of the sentencing guidelines.

The defendant, Paul Vincent Rivers, was a pharmacist who twice sold oxycodone to a confidential informant. The advisory United States Sentencing guidelines called for a sentence of 46 – 57 months incarceration. In pronouncing sentence, Judge Covington recognized how the defendant never knew his father and was raised by his mother – which was certaintly no easy task, and that the defendant had served in the U.S. military.

Federal judges are required to take the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines into consideration when fashioning a sentence that is sufficient, but not greater than necessary. In ruling with respect to the sentence, Judge Covington said that the fact that the defendant had suffered the permanent loss of pharmacist’s license and was now a convicted felon merited a downward variance from the guidelines recommended sentence and slashed it almost by 50% down to 24 months imprisonment.

Photobucket PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA (May 26, 2011) – State Attorney Michael McAuliffe and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw will co-host Palm Beach County’s Prescription Drug Abuse and Pain Clinic Summit. The event takes place today, May 26, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 at the Clayton Hutcheson Agricultural Center.

The summit focuses on prevention of the consequences surrounding addiction and prescription drug dealing before they occur.

This is the summit’s second year and since that time the number of pain clinics dealing in the illegal prescription drug trade has dropped significantly; due in part to law enforcement’s wide-sweeping raids.

CINCINNATI, OHIO (May 3, 2011) The Oxy Express could be responsible for more deaths than any other drug-related death in the country. It comes as no surprise to local law enforcement then that the doctors who write the most prescriptions of Oxycodone have all practiced in the heart of the Oxycodone supply area, South Florida.

The more than 800 pain clinics in Florida issue 85% of the Oxycodone prescriptions in the country. Addicts climb into vans, cars and buses to make the trip from Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana to get their hands on powerful narcotic painkillers. They’ll shoot it, snort it or smoke it, unless they’re also dealers and buying for the lucrative resale market.

The DEA says pain clinics can make up to $20,000 in a morning and will even hire armed guards to patrol the clinic parking lot. The DEA makes it clear that it doesn’t want to target legitimate doctors issuing legitimate pain prescriptions.

dea%20badge.jpg Healthcare providers have been subjected to increased scrutiny by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) policing the medical profession’s prescriptive and dispensing policies with respect to Schedule II narcotics, including Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin.

The IOS — Immediate Order of Suspension — is an emergency provision of federal law that permits the Attorney General to suspend a practitioner’s license to dispense narcotics without a hearing or presentation of evidence.

Under 21 U.S.C. §§ 823824, the DEA has authority to shut down a medical provider’s practice. The IOS imposes a presumption of guilt and places the burden of establishing medical necessity on the practitioner.

PALM BEACH, FL – Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe announced the arrest and filing of criminal charges against 11 individuals, including five physicians, for a total of 172 counts which include Racketeering (RICO), Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering, Trafficking in Oxycodone, Money Laundering, Unlicensed Practice of Health Care Profession and other related criminal charges. The arrests follow a complex multi-agency investigation dubbed OPERATION “PILL NATION” involving roughly 340 undercover buys from doctors and medical personnel in pain clinics throughout a three county South Florida area.

OPERATION “SNAKE OIL” (click here to see an earlier post about this) also carried out the same day as “OPERATION “PILL NATION” is a result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement and being prosecuted by the federal authorities.

“Legitimate pain management is a essential part of medical practice,” however “we cannot, and will not, allow medicine to be used by merchants of misery to corrupt the health of individuals and undermine the welfare of whole communities. We are in a continuing crisis, but the tide is turning and today’s enforcement actions provide a clear example of progress,” said State Attorney McAuliffe. To read the State Attorney’s Office’s Press release in its entirety, click here.

Pam%20Bondi.jpgTALLAHASSEE, FL– Attorney General Pam Bondi announced comprehensive strategies to combat the epidemic of pill mills in Florida. The Attorney General’s initiative includes a series of legislative recommendations for the upcoming legislative session. Because of the proliferation of pill mills, the Sunshine State leads the nation in diverted pharmaceuticals. The State’s top law enforcement official has made it a top priority to aggressively tackle this crisis.

Key recommendations include:

* Mandatory six-month suspension and $10,000 fine for doctors who violate standards of care when prescribing controlled substances;

shell-game.jpgArnesto Segredo, of Miami was sentenced to 70 months in prison for of conspiring to divert the prescription drugs Serostim and Nutropin AQ. Both drugs are human growth hormones (HGH).

The scheme involved Segredo using first and unlicensed company and then a Florida licensed wholesale company to buy and then resell the drugs that were originally purchased by co-conspirators in California from AIDS patients who were prescribed the drugs which were paid for by the California Medicaid program. The use of HGH by AIDS patients is used to prevent what is called “wasting” or the deterioration of muscle. The drugs are also used on the illegal market, by body builders to bulk up muscle mass.

Mr. Segredo wad convicted by a federal jury after going to trial. Going to trial was a pretty brave act given that the prosecutor’s opening statement to the jury likely contained some form of the following: Desperate, poor, dying people sold away the drugs that helped keep them alive so Mr. Segredo could make a profit; oh, and by the way, Medi-Cal paid for those life saving drugs so Mr. Segredo’s lucre also came at the expense of the hard-working taxpayers of California and the United States.