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
- Owner of Florida pill mill sentenced to 15 years in prison
The owner of three Florida pill mills that made millions of dollars has received a 15-year prison sentence. Zachary Timothy Rose pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and was facing up to 30 years in prison, but he received a reduced sentence after he testified against doctors who worked with him and employees of the clinics […]
- Pinellas Sheriff’s Office settles wrongful death lawsuit for Over One Million Dollars
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has paid $1.15 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit with the estate of a mentally ill woman who died in the Pinellas County jail after refusing medicine and food. The payment has settled all state and federal claims against the jail and its employees. Michael DeGraw filed suit over […]
- Patients ER Visits for Brain Injuries Increase
According to a new medical report, visits to hospital emergency rooms for brain injuries have increased in recent years. The report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, studied emergency department visits from a nationwide sample of hospitals from 2006 to 2010. During that period, the number of total emergency room visits grew […]
- Pill Mill Doctor in Florida Sentenced to 18 Years Imprisonment
State authorities have announced that a South Florida doctor has received an 18 year prison sentence for his participation in a “pill mill” scheme. Attorney General Pam Bondi said that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to bring the “dangerous drug dealer” to justice. Dr. Thomas Rodenberg was found […]
- Study Shows Teenage Brain Injuries Have Lasting Negative Effects
The specific long-lasting effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) – whether due to accidents, high-impact sports or other causes – are difficult to pin down. From concussion-related lawsuits brought against the National Football League, specialists know that TBI is often correlated with depression, dementia and cognitive impairment. Scientific research into the field is complex and, […]