Articles Posted in Drug Trafficking

Photobucket DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA (AUGUST 23, 2011) – Joseph Wagner, 61, can no longer practice in the State of Florida. The surgeon general for the Florida Department of Health, Dr. Frank Farmer, issued the emergency suspension order.

Wagner, billed insurance companies for services he never performed and treated two patients with controlled substances, exceeding the scope of his license. Wagner faked insurance reimbursement claims and called prescriptions into pharmacies using another doctor’s name without ever examining or meeting the patients. The license of the other doctor, John P. Christensen of West Palm Beach, was also suspended.

The FBI along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and other agencies raided Wagner’s clinic earlier in the month and confiscated patient records. In addition, Wagner’s son, a chiropractor at a separate clinic is under investigation for his role in the scheme.

Photobucket SOUTH FLORIDA (AUGUST 18, 2011) – The new legislation designing to halt the sale of painkillers and close down the largest pill mill industry in the nation, doesn’t target the real source of the problem it seems. Pharmacies, not doctors, sell about 80 percent of the narcotic painkillers that people get their hands on through doctor shopping.
A new state-wide database may cut that problem down, but the startup of the database has been stalled. Officials have rededicated their efforts to have the database up and running later this year. The database is designed to catch patients who jump from one doctor to the next, or who “doctor shop,” in order to keep their high prescription narcotic use under wraps. When a patient gives their prescription to a pharmacist, their name, doctor name and prescription drug information will be entered into a computer system. The system will flag any patients who attempt to buy more narcotics within too short a period of time.

Photobucket SOUTH FLORIDA (AUGUST 17, 2011) – Despite new legislative efforts with stricter regulations on pain clinics and dispensing of narcotic painkillers, deaths from oxycodone overdoses continue to rise in South Florida. Governor Rick Scott believed the state’s effort to make it harder for pill mills to operate in the state would decrease the number of deaths from narcotic painkillers. The numbers continue to rise.
The number of oxycodone-related deaths rose from 2009 by about 8 percent. Jim Hall, director of the Center for the Study & Prevention of Substance Abuse at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, feels there won’t be much improvement in the numbers until late in the year.

PhotobucketWEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA, (AUGUST 10, 2011) – In a raid that seized patient files, computers and the license of a West Palm Beach physician, authorities alleged that Dr. John Peter Christensen had been doling out prescriptions for painkillers without performing patient exams.

Christensen, under investigation since 2008, worked with a father and son team of chiropractors, Joseph Wagner and John Wagner, in Daytona Beach to bill insurance companies for exams that were never performed. The chiropractors asked patients to sign blank insurance forms which would later be filled in to reflect a patient exam by Christensen.

Records from the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s Office show that Christensen gave out prescriptions to six young men who later died of drug overdoses. Parents of two former patients who died of drug overdoses have also sued Christensen, with one case settled and one still pending.

Photobucket HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA (AUGUST 8, 2011) – Dr. Rajendra Yanda, 47, who ran an osteopathic medicine practice out of his home, was charged with 11 counts of drug device and cosmetic act violations, four counts of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity and one count of provider prohibited acts.

As part of their investigations, undercover agents were able to secure 50 prescriptions for a total of 2,180 narcotic pills. The precriptions for the incredibly addictive medications, included Percocet, Vyvanse, Adderal, Hydrocodone, Halcion, Valium and Xanax. Patient “visits” occurred in Dr. Yande’s living room, exercise room or kitchen. No exam table was present, and the doctor did no type of physical exam; not even a blood pressure was taken.

Yande did not take any type of insurance, but instead had posted a price list in the waiting room, which set out his fee based on the number of narcotic prescriptions he would write. Patient visits could range from $70 to $250.

Photobucket TAMPA, FLORIDA (AUGUST 1, 2011) – The Office of the Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services is now calling Tampa, “ground zero for pain clinics and prescription drug diversion.” It seems Tampa has taken South Florida’s place in the number of pill mill clinics supplying the illegal painkillers trade. Chris Rule of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office said it likens back to the crack cocaine problem in the 1990s.

The death toll is rising. Out of 277 drug-related deaths in 2009, 199 of those could be attributed to an oxycodone overdose or other cocktailed drugs. And Rule further states that opiate-based painkillers are the easiest drugs to buy on the street these days. In order for the patients or dealers to get the drugs from the clinic, they need only submit to a blood pressure screening or an MRI.

Of the 70 pain clinics located in the county, 35 are in Tampa. Rule says he doesn’t feel every clinic is illegal trading in prescription painkillers. Some operate within the confines of the law and “some are shady,” he says.

Photobucket PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA (JULY 29, 2011) – Three employees, including the medical director and a former registered nurse of the Allegheny Women’s Center were arrested and charged with several crimes involving prescription drug mishandling.

Dr. John Barrett, the clinic’s medical director allegedly wrote prescriptions under Dr. Alton Lawson’s DEA number for years, which Dr. Lawson permitted. One drug in particular, Diethylpropion, was used by another clinic employee, Mark Wagner, for his depression and anxiety. The drug actually treats obesity.

Over the years, Wagner received prescriptions for 20,000 pills. Wagner did not have a doctor/patient relationship with either doctor. Wagner viewed the drugs as payment for extra services he provided for the clinic, such as working overtime. Wagner also allegedly sold prescription tablets to a former registered nurse, Karen Kane who also received several bottles of the same drug.

Photobucket JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY (JULY 28, 2011) – Arrested for a second time in connection with fraud, Dr. Madgy Elamir was charged with health care claims fraud, Medicaid fraud and practicing medicine without a license. Elamir continued to write prescriptions despite his license having been suspended in connection with a previous arrest.

The defendant also has a trial date scheduled in September in an earlier case for his alleged role in a major narcotics trafficking and Medicaid fraud ring with connections in Hudson, Bergen, Ocean, Morris and Monmouth counties. Elamir allegedly wrote prescriptions for medically unnecessary prescriptions and illegally distributed the controlled drugs, Xanex and Percocet, in exchange for cash.

Elamir’s bail on the new charges has been set at $1 million.

Photobucket FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA – Florida’s Governor Rick Scott signed the “pill mill bill” into effect last Friday. The legislation is aimed at the pill pushing clinics that spawn drug addicts, dealers and deaths. Scott wants to end Florida’s “dubious distinction” as the “Oxycodone Capital” of the nation.

Particulars of the bill, effective July 1, include a ban on pill sales at doctor’s offices and clinics, an automatic suspension of six months for doctors who overprescribe, and penalties for pharmacies and drug wholesalers who fail to report suspicious prescribing activities. By October, the state will have a computer database to log all pain pill prescriptions, making it easier for doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement to monitor illegal activity.

The bill is not without its flaws and exempts pain clinic doctors and anesthesiologists with extra training in pain therapy. Some of these professionals have participated in pill mill activities in the past. Present at the bill signing (done at several different police stations throughout Florida), were members of law enforcement as well as political leaders, including the Mayor of Orange County, Theresa Jacobs and Dr. Jan Garavaglia, the Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner. Also in attendance, relatives who had lost loved ones to pain pill overdoses.

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.

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