Tampa Pill Mill Operators Convicted
Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) May 12, 2014 - Three operators of a Tampa pill mill have been convicted on dozens of charges. They now face years in Florida prisons.
Jorge Gonzalez-Betancourt, 53, and Michele Gonzalez, 37, owners of pain clinic First Medical Group, were convicted of charges including racketeering, trafficking in oxycodone and conspiring to traffic in oxycodone. Maureen Altman, 58, the clinic's manager, was found guilty of charges including racketeering and conspiring to traffic in oxycodone. Many of the charges against the three carry a maximum prison sentence of up to 30 years.
Tampa pill mill attorney Robert Joyce said the conviction sends a clear message to pain clinic doctors and operators.
“The jury saw the harm that these three individuals have brought to Tampa, and they rendered a guilty verdict,” Mr. Joyce said. “The state of Florida has put pain clinics on notice. We are not going to tolerate pill mills in our communities.”
The verdict vindicates years of police and prosecution effort to prove that First Medical Group illegally prescribed and sold millions of doses of narcotic painkillers. Authorities said that each day, as many as 100 patients came to its strip-mall storefront on North Dale Mabry Highway. Many paid for their painkillers in cash, and some came from as far away as Kentucky and Ohio.
Dr. Kimberly Daffern was accused of single-handedly prescribing some 1 million oxycodone pills at the clinic in just three months. She died in 2011, before the trial began.
The trial lasted nearly five months. The prosecutors' prospects for victory were not always bright. A civil judge gave a poor assessment of prosecutors' evidence against the clinic. Near the end of the trial, another judge rejected more than half of the charges against the Gonzalezes.
Police raided First Medical in July 2010. But a civil judge soon ordered police to return nearly $250,000 to the Gonzalezes, ruling that police had not had probable cause to seize the money.
In the end, prosecutors, armed with expert analysis of clinic records and the testimony of many former customers of the clinic, were able to form a case strong enough to convince the jury.
Michelle Gonzalez's attorney said the defendants would appeal.
Joyce and Reyes Law Firm, P.A.
307 S Hyde Park Ave
Tampa, FL 33606
View Larger Map
- Wrongful death lawsuits filed over crash that killed Jose Fernandez and two friends
Wrongful death lawsuits have been filed in Florida by the families of two people who died along with Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez when the boat he was piloting crashed into a jetty. The accident occurred on September 25, 2016, when the boat hit a rock jetty near Miami Beach at a speed in excess […]
- Florida Supreme Court rejects Daubert standard and same specialty standard for expert testimony in medical malpractice cases
In a February 16 opinion, the Florida Supreme Court stated that it declined to adopt, to the extent that they are procedural, two changes to the Evidence Code: the Daubert amendment and the Same Specialty amendment. Legal observers called the decision a victory for consumers, as both amendments would have imposed stricter controls on expert […]
- Florida Supreme Court rules medical malpractice lawsuit can proceed
The Florida Supreme Court ruled that a Florida man can pursue his medical malpractice lawsuit against his deceased wife’s primary care physician for her suicide in 2008. The justices ruled unanimously that the case should go to trial, upholding a ruling by the Second District Court of Appeal in 2014, which reversed the decision of […]
- Florida family files wrongful death lawsuit against restaurant
A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by a Florida family against a restaurant where they say their family member ate before dying of salmonella poisoning. Gary Kidwell, 39, died at Boca Regional Hospital on Feb. 12, 2015, after becoming sick in the fall of 2014. The family said that cultures were performed at the […]
- Jury convicts Florida man for ‘pill mill’ operation
A jury convicted a Florida man of 11 felony charges for running a pain clinic that prosecutors called a “pill mill.” Richard McMillan refused a plea deal of 10 years in prison. He took the stand in his own defense, arguing that his network of pain clinics was a legitimate business. After nine hours of […]