August 23, 2011

FLORIDA CHIROPRACTOR'S LICENSE SUSPENDED FOR FRAUD

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.

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August 18, 2011

DOCTOR SHOPPING FUELS OXYCODONE SALES


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.

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August 17, 2011

DESPITE NEW CRACKDOWNS OXYCODONE DEATHS RISE

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.

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August 11, 2011

PATIENT FILES AND COMPUTERS SEIZED FROM WEST PALM DOCTOR

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WEST 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.

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August 8, 2011

PENNSYLVANIA DOCTOR CHARGED WITH SELLING PRESCRIPTIONS FOR CASH

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.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly stated that their investigation of Dr. Yande is ongoing.

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August 1, 2011

PILL MILL CENTRAL MOVED TO TAMPA

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.

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July 29, 2011

CHARGES OF PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE AT PA HEALTH CLINIC

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.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala is prosecuting the case.

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July 28, 2011

NEW JERSEY NEUROLOGIST ON SUSPENDED LICENSE CHARGED WITH MEDICAID FRAUD

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.

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June 8, 2011

"OXYCODONE CAPITAL" NO MORE?

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.

Healthcare Fraud Blog Publisher, Attorney Robert Malove, is an expert criminal trial lawyer as recognized by The Florida Bar. Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of health care fraud defense.

Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of pill mill defense and represents the Florida Academy of Pain Medicine, Florida Academy of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Pain Management, and Florida Society of Neurology and has filed an amicus curiae brief in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the Florida statutes regulating the operation of pain clinics, i.e., pill mills.

If you, or someone you know is facing prosecution as a result of aggressive law enforcement activity of pill mills or doctor shopping, make sure you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the issues.

Federal Healthcare Fraud Strike Force teams are currently operating in 9 locations: Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Brooklyn, Tampa, Baton Rouge, Dallas and Chicago.

If you or someone you know is a healthcare provider and in need of serious pill mills, doctor shopping or any healthcare fraud defense, please contact attorney Robert Malove, co-author of the noted treatise, WHITE COLLAR CRIME: HEALTH CARE FRAUD (West)(2010-2011 ed.) to arrange an immediate consultation.

May 26, 2011

PALM BEACH COUNTY DRUG ABUSE SUMMIT SET FOR TODAY

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.

In February of this year, as previously reported here, raids of 11 pain clinics spread from Miami to West Palm Beach netted 23 arrests and more than $2.5 million in cash and vehicles. State Attorney McAuliffe believes that integrating the message of public health with enforcement helps officials refine their philosophy and not focus simply on arresting people.

Healthcare Fraud Blog Publisher, Attorney Robert Malove, is an expert criminal trial lawyer as recognized by The Florida Bar. Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of health care fraud defense.

Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of pill mill defense and represents the Florida Academy of Pain Medicine, Florida Academy of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Pain Management, and Florida Society of Neurology and has filed an amicus curiae brief in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the Florida statutes regulating the operation of pain clinics, i.e., pill mills.

If you, or someone you know is facing prosecution as a result of aggressive law enforcement activity of pill mills or doctor shopping, make sure you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the issues.

Federal Healthcare Fraud Strike Force teams are currently operating in 9 locations: Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Brooklyn, Tampa, Baton Rouge, Dallas and Chicago.

If you or someone you know is a healthcare provider and in need of serious pill mills, doctor shopping or any healthcare fraud defense, please contact attorney Robert Malove, co-author of the noted treatise, WHITE COLLAR CRIME: HEALTH CARE FRAUD (West)(2010-2011 ed.) to arrange an immediate consultation.

May 25, 2011

TRADING SEX FOR DRUGS, FLORIDA DOCTOR INDICTED

Photobucket LAKE WORTH, FLORIDA (May 18, 2011) - The DEA's Operation Pill Nation
crackdown thought it was just another pill mill investigation, but in a strange twist the agency also found that Dr. Cesar DeLeon, a Lake Worth physician was not operating the typical pill mill out of his clinic, the Trinity Medical Center. The doctor received methods of compensation other than money for prescriptions; he was sometimes paid with sex.

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Dr. DeLeon was indicted for illegal distribution of the narcotic painkiller, Oxycodone, and the DEA's investigation concluded that the good doctor had not only traded illegal prescriptions for addictive controlled substances, but also offered free office visits and money in exchange for sexual favors from patients.

For this unusual method of pill mill operation, Dr. DeLeon faces up to 20 years for each of the 55 counts he was indicted on and a $1,000,000 fine if he is convicted.

Healthcare Fraud Blog Publisher, Attorney Robert Malove, is an expert criminal trial lawyer as recognized by The Florida Bar. Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of health care fraud defense.

Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of pill mill defense and represents the Florida Academy of Pain Medicine, Florida Academy of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Pain Management, and Florida Society of Neurology and has filed an amicus curiae brief in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the Florida statutes regulating the operation of pain clinics, i.e., pill mills.

If you, or someone you know is facing prosecution as a result of aggressive law enforcement activity of pill mills or doctor shopping, make sure you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the issues.

Federal Healthcare Fraud Strike Force teams are currently operating in 9 locations: Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Brooklyn, Tampa, Baton Rouge, Dallas and Chicago.

If you or someone you know is a healthcare provider and in need of serious pill mills, doctor shopping or any healthcare fraud defense, please contact attorney Robert Malove, co-author of the noted treatise, WHITE COLLAR CRIME: HEALTH CARE FRAUD (West)(2010-2011 ed.) to arrange an immediate consultation.

May 19, 2011

PILLBILLIES TARGET SOUTH FLORIDA

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PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA (May 14, 2011) - South Florida, usually a premier destination for those desiring beautiful beaches, fine dining and luxury accommodations has become a major draw for out-of-state drug traffickers seeking, among other drugs, the popular narcotic painkiller, Oxycodone.

The out-of-towners, called "pillbillies" because of their connection to the Appalachian region, buy large quantities of prescription drugs, then head back to their home state to sell them. Local law enforcement resources have become overtaxed due to the large number of these out-of-state defendants frequently caught during a routine traffic stop.

The majority of offenders hail from Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky and for the last five years, "pillbillies" have clogged up the Broward County court docket, which ultimately hits local residents' wallets. One day in jail costs the county $114 for each jailed defendant.

Florida's past lax regulations regarding prescription meds may have been to blame for the illegal trade gaining a foothold in the state. Florida legislators just recently tightened its grip on the pain management "pill mills," which may be netting more drug traffickers.

Miami doctor Bernd Wollschlager, past president of the Florida Academy of Family Physicians and staunch opponent of pill mills, reported that a pill mill doctor can make as much as $5,000 per day just writing prescriptions.

Healthcare Fraud Blog Publisher, Attorney Robert Malove, is an expert criminal trial lawyer as recognized by The Florida Bar. Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of health care fraud defense.

Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of pill mill defense and represents the Florida Academy of Pain Medicine, Florida Academy of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Pain Management, and Florida Society of Neurology and has filed an amicus curiae brief in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the Florida statutes regulating the operation of pain clinics, i.e., pill mills.

If you, or someone you know is facing prosecution as a result of aggressive law enforcement activity of pill mills or doctor shopping, make sure you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the issues.

Federal Healthcare Fraud Strike Force teams are currently operating in 9 locations: Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Brooklyn, Tampa, Baton Rouge, Dallas and Chicago.

If you or someone you know is a healthcare provider and in need of serious pill mill defense, doctor shopping or any healthcare fraud defense, please contact attorney Robert Malove, co-author of the noted treatise, WHITE COLLAR CRIME: HEALTH CARE FRAUD (West)(2010-2011 ed.) to arrange an immediate consultation.

May 10, 2011

FLORIDA'S PILL MILL BILL CONTAINS LOOPHOLES

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TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA (May 10, 2011) - Florida's legislature scored a big win with the passage of the bill to target pill mills, prescription drug dealers and users. Supporters of the bill consider the loopholes minor.

House Bill 7095 bill makes provisions for a state prescription database and requires drugstores to log the sale of every prescription pain pill. It does not, however, require doctors and pharmacists to check the database before handing the patient their pills. Mandating a database check could catch abusers through cross-referencing all places where they fill prescriptions.

Certain doctors and practices also fall under an exemption for registration with the database. Board-certified pain specialists, such as anesthesiologists, neurologists and surgeons can dispense pain meds without registering the transaction. Non-exempt physicians must register their office, have an inspection and follow set standards of patient care. With more than one-half of Florida's pain clinics run by board-certified pain doctors, potential for abuse runs high. State officials offer that the class of exempted doctors generally are much less likely to abuse the system.

The last loophole concerns the lack of drug testing for patients. The medical board wanted patients to undergo regular drug screenings if they receive pain medications, but lawmakers struck down the idea in order to get the bill passed. Regular testing could cost patients $44, each or $60 million, collectively, per year.

Loopholes aside, the bill provides stiff penalties for abusers. An automatic six-month license suspension and $10,000 fine awaits doctors found guilty of prescription abuse.

Healthcare Fraud Blog Publisher, Attorney Robert Malove, is an expert criminal trial lawyer as recognized by The Florida Bar. Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of health care fraud defense.

Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of pill mill defense and represents the Florida Academy of Pain Medicine, Florida Academy of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Pain Management, and Florida Society of Neurology and has filed an amicus curiae brief in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the Florida statutes regulating the operation of pain clinics, i.e., pill mills.

If you, or someone you know is facing prosecution as a result of aggressive law enforcement activity of pill mills or doctor shopping, make sure you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the issues.

Federal Healthcare Fraud Strike Force teams are currently operating in 9 locations: Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Brooklyn, Tampa, Baton Rouge, Dallas and Chicago.

If you or someone you know is a healthcare provider and in need of serious pill mill defense, doctor shopping or any healthcare fraud defense, please contact attorney Robert Malove, co-author of the noted treatise, WHITE COLLAR CRIME: HEALTH CARE FRAUD (West)(2010-2011 ed.) to arrange an immediate consultation.

May 9, 2011

OHIO SENATE TO VOTE ON PILL MILL BILL

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COLUMBUS, OHIO (May 9, 2011) - Joining other states with similar legislation, Ohio's licensed doctors support the passage of regulations to curb the 'pill mill' problem and cut the rapid growth of the painkiller-addiction problem in the state. The physicians are also concerned, however, that patients with legitimate pain relief needs could find it harder to come by their drugs, if doctors are worried they'll be targeted for investigation. "Nothing about anything that we're doing is meant to dissuade good physicians," states Richard Whitehouse, executive director of the State Medical Board. Instead, the aim is to give the board more authority to target pill mills.

Ohio House Bill 93 seeks pharmaceutical licensure of free-standing pain management clinics, which is where the majority of patients receive the narcotic pain killers. In addition, doctors would be required to have an affiliation with a local hospital and be board-certified in pain management. Doctors would also have to report any narcotic pain prescriptions written to a state-monitored automated reporting system.

In the past, physicians prescribed strong pain killers mostly to their cancer patients. After reevaluation of pain as the "fifth" vital sign, doctors began to more freely write for pain killer medications. "Now, there's a crisis of drug abuse and diversion," states Dr. Robert Taylor of Ohio State University Medical Center.

Getting rid of the pill mills reduces the problem in part, but addicts and drug dealers may simply shop harder and use out-of-state sources. Taylor feels that although the legislation will help reduce the supply, the demand side of the problem will still be there.

Healthcare Fraud Blog Publisher, Attorney Robert Malove, is an expert criminal trial lawyer as recognized by The Florida Bar. Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of health care fraud defense.

If you, or someone you know is facing prosecution as a result of aggressive law enforcement activity of pill mills or doctor shopping, make sure you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the issues.

Federal Healthcare Fraud Strike Force teams are currently operating in 9 locations: Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Brooklyn, Tampa, Baton Rouge, Dallas and Chicago.

If you or someone you know is a healthcare provider and in need of serious pill mills, doctor shopping or any healthcare fraud defense, please contact attorney Robert Malove, co-author of the noted treatise, WHITE COLLAR CRIME: HEALTH CARE FRAUD (West)(2010-2011 ed.) to arrange an immediate consultation.


May 9, 2011

U.S. SENATE TARGETS DOCTOR SHOPPING WITH "STOP: STOP TRAFFICKING OF PILLS ACT"

u_s_capitol_building.jpg WASHINGTON D.C. (May 6, 2011) - U. S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has introduced the "Stop Trafficking of Pills Act’’ or the ‘‘STOP" Act target patients and drug dealers looking for narcotic pain medications. The Senator wants individual states to take a tougher stance in fighting Medicaid fraud where prescription medications are involved.

Last year Medicaid shelled out $820 million for prescription drugs in Ohio alone last year. Drug seekers use their Medicaid card to go from doctor to doctor and pharmacy to pharmacy, and although Florida boosts the highest number of Oxycodone prescriptions filled yearly, Ohio ranks number two. The Senator claims Oxycodone, morphine and methadone are the increasing deaths and overdoses.

Senator Brown's bill would require patients to "lock-in" their choice of a Medicaid provider and pharmacy, which is already required in many states now. The Ohio Highway Patrol has already been targeting prescription pill couriers on Ohio's interstates. In March alone, more than 1300 arrests were made for illegal prescription pills. One of the biggest corridors, for illegal prescriptions drugs, runs from Detroit, Michigan to southern Ohio before filtering into other states.

Healthcare Fraud Blog Publisher, Attorney Robert Malove, is an expert criminal trial lawyer as recognized by The Florida Bar. Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of health care fraud defense.

If you, or someone you know is facing prosecution as a result of aggressive law enforcement activity of doctor shopping or pharmacy hopping, make sure you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the issues.

Federal Healthcare Fraud Strike Force teams are currently operating in 9 locations: Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Brooklyn, Tampa, Baton Rouge, Dallas and Chicago.

If you or someone you know is a healthcare provider and in need of serious doctor shopping, pharmacy hopping or any healthcare fraud defense, please contact attorney Robert Malove, co-author of the noted treatise, WHITE COLLAR CRIME: HEALTH CARE FRAUD (West)(2010-2011 ed.) to arrange an immediate consultation.

May 8, 2011

DEA SERVES IMMEDIATE SUSPENSION ORDER TO MICHIGAN M.D.

dea%20badge.jpg MONROE, MICHIGAN - Dr. Oscar Linares's DEA registration was suspended for illegally distributing millions of doses of Schedule II and III narcotics and for fraudulently billing Medicare for $5.7 million. Dr. Linares faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine and was arrested at his office in Monroe, Michigan following a search of the premises. Law enforcement also seized several of the physician's assets, including four bank accounts, two watercraft and seven luxury vehicles.

Dr. Linares allegedly prescribed narcotics for approximately 250 patients per day and even paid employee bonuses anytime he had more than 200 patient appointments in a single day. The Complaint alleges misconduct based on patient accounts, employee interviews and patient visits by undercover operatives. Reportedly, Dr. Linares viewed his actions as that of a man "building an empire."

Healthcare Fraud Blog Publisher, Attorney Robert Malove, is an expert criminal trial lawyer as recognized by The Florida Bar. Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of pill mill and health care fraud defense.

Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of pill mill defense and represents the Florida Academy of Pain Medicine, Florida Academy of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Pain Management, and Florida Society of Neurology and has filed an amicus curiae brief in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the Florida statutes regulating the operation of pain clinics, i.e., pill mills.

If you, or someone you know is facing prosecution as a result of aggressive law enforcement activity of pill mill or other fraudulent health care practices, make sure you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the issues.

Federal Healthcare Fraud Strike Force teams are currently operating in 9 locations: Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Brooklyn, Tampa, Baton Rouge, Dallas and Chicago.

If you or someone you know is a healthcare provider and in need of serious pill mills, doctor shopping or any healthcare fraud defense, please contact attorney Robert Malove, co-author of the noted treatise, WHITE COLLAR CRIME: HEALTH CARE FRAUD (West)(2010-2011 ed.) to arrange an immediate consultation.

May 3, 2011

POLICE UNCOVER "THE OXY EXPRESS"

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.

They target doctors who act like drug dealers and write thousands upon thousands of narcotic pain prescriptions per year. In Eastern Ohio where Portsmouth boasts half a dozen pain clinics, Oxycodone is known as "hillbilly heroin."

While the DEA crack down on Florida pain clinics has made some impact in the pipeline, pain clinic owners have gotten wise and started to move their practices to neighboring states. The special agent in charge of the crackdown has a message for those owners, "we probably made [undercover] buys in your clinic and we're probably coming for you at some point in time."

Healthcare Fraud Blog Publisher, Attorney Robert Malove, is an expert criminal trial lawyer as recognized by The Florida Bar. Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of health care fraud defense.

Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of pill mill defense and represents the Florida Academy of Pain Medicine, Florida Academy of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Pain Management, and Florida Society of Neurology and has filed an amicus curiae brief in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the Florida statutes regulating the operation of pain clinics, i.e., pill mills.

If you, or someone you know is facing prosecution as a result of aggressive law enforcement activity of pill mills or doctor shopping, make sure you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the issues.

Federal Healthcare Fraud Strike Force teams are currently operating in 9 locations: Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Brooklyn, Tampa, Baton Rouge, Dallas and Chicago.

If you or someone you know is a healthcare provider and in need of serious pill mill defense, doctor shopping or any healthcare fraud defense, please contact attorney Robert Malove, co-author of the noted treatise, WHITE COLLAR CRIME: HEALTH CARE FRAUD (West)(2010-2011 ed.) to arrange an immediate consultation.

April 28, 2011

DEA STEPS UP USE OF IMMEDIATE ORDER OF SUSPENSION (IOS) IN EFFORT TO CURB PILL MILLS

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. §§ 823-824, 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.

Chronic pain is a condition affecting vast numbers of patients nationwide. The DEA largely misunderstands complex set of circumstances regarding the treatment of chronic pain and often times punishes health care providers for the exercise of sound professional medical judgment.

It probably goes without saying that there are unscrupulous health care providers that flaunt the law and properly fall within the scope of the statute’s broad reach. However, when there is direct physician/patient interaction, a medical history, and physical examination, it is reminiscent of Orwell's "Big Brother" and an abuse of government power to conclude as a matter of law that such conduct is intended to skirt federal and state statutes and DEA administrative regulations.

Healthcare providers must be vigilant in properly documenting the need for administration of opioids to patients and attentive to patients’ drug seeking behavior with no evidence to support medical necessity. Otherwise, the vast reach of the DEA may find otherwise ethical and dedicated and law-abiding physicians trapped within the wide net cast upon unscrupulous providers by the government second-guessing proper medical judgment.

Healthcare Fraud Blog Publisher, Attorney Robert Malove, is an expert criminal trial lawyer as recognized by The Florida Bar. Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of pill mill defense. Criminal defense attorney Robert Malove represents the Florida Academy of Pain Medicine, Florida Academy of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Pain Management, and Florida Society of Neurology and has filed an amicus curiae brief in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the Florida statutes regulating the operation of pain clinics, i.e., pill mills.

If you, or someone you know is facing prosecution as a result of aggressive law enforcement activity targeting pain clinics, i.e., pill mills, make sure you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the issues.

Federal Healthcare Fraud Strike Force teams are currently operating in 9 locations: Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Brooklyn, Tampa, Baton Rouge, Dallas and Chicago.

If you or someone you know is a healthcare provider and in need of serious pill mill defense or healthcare fraud defense, please contact attorney Robert Malove, co-author of the noted treatise, WHITE COLLAR CRIME: HEALTH CARE FRAUD (West)(2010-2011 ed.) to arrange an immediate consultation.

March 1, 2011

PALM BEACH STATE ATTORNEY FILES CHARGES AGAINST 11 IN OPERATION “PILL NATION” WITH RACKETEERING (RICO) AND OTHER RELATED CRIMINAL ACTIVITY

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.

Healthcare Fraud Blog Publisher, Attorney Robert Malove, is an expert criminal trial lawyer as recognized by The Florida Bar. Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of pill mill defense. Criminal defense attorney Robert Malove represents the Florida Academy of Pain Medicine, Florida Academy of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Pain Management, and Florida Society of Neurology and has filed an amicus curiae brief in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the Florida statutes regulating the operation of pain clinics, i.e., pill mills.

If you, or someone you know is facing prosecution as a result of aggressive law enforcement activity targeting pain clinics, i.e., pill mills, you need to make sure you hire a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the issues regarding pill mill defense. For serious pill mill defense, throughout South Florida including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, call Florida pill mill defense lawyer and criminal trial law specialist Robert Malove immediately.

February 23, 2011

OPERATION SNAKE OIL - SOUTH FLORIDA PILL MILLS TARGETED - FIVE DOCTORS AMONG THOSE ARRESTED

Defendants Owned and Worked at Seven Area Clinics that Prescribed over 660,000 Pills, Profited More than $22 Million

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - The United States Attorney for the Southern District, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, announce the indictment of six South Florida residents for their participation in the illegal distribution of pain killers.

snake-oil.jpgToday’s case, dubbed Operation Snake Oil, 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.

This prosecution targets the owners and operator of seven pain clinics located in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. Charged in the indictment are Vincent Colangelo, 42, of Davie, Nicholaus Thomas, 28, of Fort Lauderdale, Rachel Bass, 27, of Pompano Beach, Michael Plesak, 26, of Plantation, Jeremiah Flowers, 31, of Fort Meyers, and Wayne Richards, 45, of Lighthouse Point. Five of the six have been arrested. Defendant Flowers remains at-large. To read the indictment, click here.

All of the defendants have been charged with conspiring to distribute and dispense more than 660,000 dosage units of oxycodone. Three defendants (Colangelo, Plesak and Bass) are also charged with one count of conspiring to launder the proceeds of the pain clinics and twenty-six counts of money laundering. In addition, the indictment seeks forfeiture of more than $22 million in cash and assets. Among the assets sought to be forfeited are more than 46 vehicles and vessels, including a Mercedes-Benz SLR Mclaren, numerous Dodge Vipers, and two Lamborghinis, as well as expensive real estate and a trailer park in Okeechobee.

The indictment alleges that the defendants operated the pain clinics as pill mills that offered patients prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances where there was no legitimate medical purpose and not within the usual course of professional medical practice. The indictment says that the defendants marketed the clinics through more than 1,600 internet sites, required immediate cash payments from patients for a clinic “visit fee,” directed the patients to obtain MRIs that the defendants knew to be inferior, over-aggressively interpreted MRIs in order to justify prescriptions, and falsified patients’ urine tests for a fee to justify the highly addictive pain medications.

“According to recent estimates, Florida prescribes ten times more oxycodone pills than all other states combined. Operation Snake Oil is part of our concerted effort to keep South Florida from drowning in pill mills. Working together with our state and local partners, we are shutting down these shady storefronts through the systematic prosecution of doctors, clinic owners and operators who deal drugs while hiding behind a medical license,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer.

“Prescription drug abuse is our country’s fastest growing drug problem, and pill mills such as those in Florida are fueling much of that growth. As a result, citizens in communities across Florida and around the nation are faced with growing drug addiction that is accompanied by pain, suffering, and even death,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.

“Rogue doctors who run these operations violate their professional oaths and are, in fact, drug dealers. Florida today is “ground zero” in the fight against pill mills, and we are determined to continue to aggressively pursue those who are responsible for this nationwide epidemic.”

IRS Special Agent in Charge Daniel W. Auer stated, “We are pleased to have lent our financial investigative expertise to this investigation. IRS- Criminal Investigations’ role was to trace the flow of the monies derived from the illegal operation of these pill mills, to identify the individuals who profited from these illegal activities and to help seize any assets purchased using the ill-gotten gains.”

According to the indictment, demand of oxycodone has grown to epidemic proportions in South Florida and other parts of the United States, where drug dealers can sell a 30 mg Oxycodone pill on the street for $10 to $30 or more. Oxycodone has a high potential for abuse and can be crushed snorted, or dissolved and injected, to get an immediate high. This abuse can lead to addiction, overdose, and sometimes death.

Healthcare Fraud Blog Publisher, Attorney Robert Malove, is an expert criminal trial lawyer as recognized by The Florida Bar. Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of pill mill defense. Criminal defense attorney Robert Malove represents the Florida Academy of Pain Medicine, Florida Academy of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Pain Management, and Florida Society of Neurology and has filed an amicus curiae brief in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the Florida statutes regulating the operation of pain clinics, i.e., pill mills.

If you, or someone you know is facing prosecution as a result of aggressive law enforcement activity targeting pain clinics, i.e., pill mills, you need to make sure you hire a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with pill mill defense. For serious pill mill defense, throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, call Florida pill mill defense lawyer Robert Malove immediately.

Continue reading "OPERATION SNAKE OIL - SOUTH FLORIDA PILL MILLS TARGETED - FIVE DOCTORS AMONG THOSE ARRESTED" »

February 3, 2011

FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL BONDI ANNOUNCES STRATEGIES TO COMBAT PILL MILL EPIDEMIC

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;

* Criminal penalty (third-degree felony) for those who use fraud or misrepresentation to register as a pain clinic;

* Criminal penalty for doctors who fail to perform a physical examination before dispensing 72-hours worth of controlled substances; second-degree misdemeanor for the first offense; first-degree misdemeanor for the second offense; and third-degree felony for the third offense; and

* Requirement that anyone who maintains inventory of controlled substances must report the discovery of any theft of controlled substances to local law enforcement or FDLE within 48 hours; failure to do so will result in administrative penalties and fines.

In addition to these proposals, Attorney General Bondi outlined the need for aggressive administrative enforcement on pain clinics and doctors; increased criminal prosecution through partnerships between the Office of Statewide Prosecution and State Attorneys in high drug-trafficking areas; and long-term prevention strategies such as drug takebacks and drug courts.

“Our state needs a unified effort at every level to eradicate Florida’s pill mills,” said Attorney General Bondi. “We are working with state and local law enforcement, as well as our federal partners, to curtail the dangerous dispensing and abuse of prescription drugs.”

Florida has become the destination for distributors and abusers through the proliferation of pill mills. While the Legislature has already enacted several reforms to address this growing problem, Attorney General Bondi has identified additional provisions that will give law enforcement enhanced tools to investigate and prosecute pill mills and crack down on doctors that engage in drug trafficking.


To read the Pill Mill Legislation & Summary, click here, and here.

Healthcare Fraud Blog Publisher, Attorney Robert Malove, is an expert criminal trial lawyer as recognized by The Florida Bar. Mr. Malove has extensive experience in the area of pill mill defense. Criminal defense attorney Robert Malove represents the Florida Academy of Pain Medicine, Florida Academy of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Pain Management, and Florida Society of Neurology and has filed an amicus curiae brief in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the Florida statutes regulating the operation of pain clinics, i.e., pill mills.

If you, or someone you know is facing prosecution as a result of aggressive law enforcement activity targeting pain clinics, i.e., pill mills, you need to make sure you hire a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with pill mill defense. For serious pill mill defense, throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, call Florida pill mill defense lawyer Robert Malove immediately.

March 9, 2010

Law Enforcement Focuses on Pain Clinics, Ignoring Patients Who Suffer

drugs_1.jpgAccording to an article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, at least 45 pain clinics opened in Broward and Palm Beach counties in the past year, while state law makers and state and local law enforcement agencies stepped-up their efforts to put an end to the operation suspected “pill mills.”

In August 2008, 66 pain clinics were open for business in Broward and Palm Beach counties combined. The Sun-Sentinel article reports that according to data available from the Florida Department of Health, the number centers issuing narcotic pain medications currently is more than the times what it was in August 2008 - with 122 in Broward to 122 and in Palm Beach County to 108.

Pain clinics “are proliferating despite our efforts," Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti said last week, after state and federal agents executed search warrants at three pain clinics owned or controlled by Christopher and Jeffrey George in Palm Beach County. The Georges' homes were also searched.

No arrests have been made yet, however, a federal law law suit has been filed in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach. According to the law suit, three of the Georges’ clinics collected $14 million last year and dispensed more than 2.1 million pills. [To read the law suit, click: here.] Additionally, five doctors who worked at the clinics have had their DEA numbers to prescribe pain medications suspended. The doctors can either voluntarily agree to the suspension or can challenge the suspension before a DEA Administrative Law Judge at a hearing scheduled for May.

Independent sources close to the investigation indicate that patient files were properly documented, regular MRI's were required and prescriptions that issued were 100% medically necessary. From time to time, patients who were suspected of phony symptom ology were discovered, refused treatment and escorted off the premises. If you or someone you know has ever suffered from debilitating pain, then no one has to tell you that life can be pure hell without taking pain medication just to get through the day and attempting to perform even the simplest of tasks. The real tragedy in the "gung-ho, rah, rah" attitude of law enforcement targeting pain clinics, is that the overwhelming majority of patients have well-documented injuries requiring pain medication for treatment. These legitimate pain sufferers are the forgotten "victims" who unfortunately wind up as unintended by-product caught in the overreaching net of law enforcement, much like innocent dolphins caught in the nets of profit-driven commercial fisherman.

Palm Beach County and several cities in both counties have temporarily banned new pain clincs, reported by the HCFB here and here. "Palm Beach County is ahead of us [in law enforcement efforts aimed at detecting criminal activities at pain clinics]. We're [Broward County is] trying to play catch up now," Lamberti said. "On the street, [there are] too many targets, not enough deputies. We're really trying to be hard on it because it causes crime in the community. We think they know we are serious."

To read the Sun-Sentinel article, click here.

February 9, 2010

Palm Beach County Florida Places Moratorium On "Pain Clinics"

multi-drugs.jpgIn an intriguing development in the war on pain, Palm Beach County, Florida, passed an ordinance designed to prevent new pain clinics from opening up and are intending to pass ordinances to curb the practices of existing pain clinics. This is a somewhat unusual development and may form the basis for legal challenges. The county commissioners, with some harsh words for pain clinics, are apparently attempting to regulate the medical profession through zoning regulations.

To read more, click: here.

January 10, 2010

“Pill Mill Operator Convicted” Is The Headline, But Was It a Victory For the State?

money%20and%20pills.jpgSometimes it takes some knowledge of how prosecutions generally work to see through press releases and newspaper articles touting big victories by the government. The State of Florida issued a press release yesterday regarding the conviction of a so called “pill mill” operator on charges including adulteration and misbranding of drugs related to the internet sales, without a prescription, of $10 million dollars worth of drugs including controlled substances.

The scheme sounds pretty nefarious. Abel Rodriguez was convicted for his role in setting up pharmacies that didn’t operate except to purchase drugs from wholesalers and passing those drugs on to bought the drugs from wholesalers and then sent the drugs to co-conspirators who then sold the drugs out of warehouses via the internet without a doctor’s prescription.

Generally, you would expect the individual to be charged, as most are in these types of cases, with charges more severe than misbranding and adulteration, which under Florida law at the time were lower level felonies and had previously been misdemeanors. However, a review of the court docket indicates that in fact Mr. Rodriguez was charged with not only drug trafficking, but also racketeering, one carrying mandatory minimum imprisonment and the other with sentences up to thirty years in prison.

What the article and press release do not disclose is that those charges were dismissed by the court. Therefore, the victory was likely not as great as the State and federal government probably anticipated when they charged Mr. Rodriguez in 2005. Of course Mr. Rodriguez is certainly looking at possible prison time, but certainly not as much as he would be if the greater charges survived.

November 23, 2009

South Florida Remains the Oxycontin Capital

drugs_1.jpgThe federal agents arrested 20 people for a Palm Beach operation that engaged in buying up oxycontin from Broward County pain clinics and pharmacies and shipping those drugs to Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina . The operation had been going on for several years, with participants visiting up to five pain clinics a day to obtain drugs.

To read more, click here.

October 20, 2009

Upping the Ante in Pain Management Prosecutions: Orlando Area Doctor Charged With Drug Trafficking and Medicare Fraud

Dr. Jeffrey Freidlander of Lakeland , Florida was charged in the Middle District of Florida with trafficking in controlled substances including oxycontin, morphine and hydrocodone. The indictment alleges that the physician pre-signed prescriptions and allowed his staff of non-physicians to issue a large number of prescriptions for controlled substances. However, latest Indictment also alleges health care fraud for a number of purported types of false claims to Medicare including submitting claims for physical therapy procedures done by massage therapists.

In addition, the physician and several of his staff are charged with submitting claims for anesthetic procedures required to be performed by a physician called facet joint injections when in actuality unsupervised staff were performing much less expensive and complex trigger point injections.

The Medicare fraud allegations are the result of a superseding indictment (click here and here), that is, new charges added to the original indictable offenses. This apparently arises from the cooperation of one of the staff who had entered into a plea agreement with the government. Although the Medicare related allegations, if proven, would constitute fraud; it is generally not the types of fraud often pursued criminally by the federal government unless the dollar amounts are substantially high. It certainly appears that the fraud is the dog wagging the tail of the drug trafficking allegations. It would be interesting if that is also the route pursued in other investigations related to the dispensing of pain medications although most practices that specialize in pain management do not also provide other types of services reimbursable under Medicare.

For more click here.