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
- Bicycle accident deaths on the rise
In Florida and nationwide, the number of deaths in bicycle accidents is rising. Advocates say bicycle safety needs to be improved. According to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of bicycle fatalities rose by 16 percent between 2010 and 2012. There were 621 bicycle deaths in 2010, 680 in 2011 […]
- Study finds traumatic brain injury can accelerate atrophy of the brain
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can accelerate the rate of brain atrophy, according to a new study published in the Annals of Neurology. According to the study, the brains of patients with TBI were estimated to be older than their actual chronological age. The study examined patients who had suffered brain injuries from car accidents, falls, […]
- Exhibit at Florida Capitol heightens awareness of brain injuries
During the month of March, an exhibit in the grand rotunda of the Florida State Capitol featured 100 masks created by survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The Brain Injury Association of Florida (BIAF) organized the exhibit, “The Faces of Brain Injury,” to raise awareness and educate the public about the needs of brain injury […]
- Widow of slain Florida cyclist files wrongful death lawsuit
A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by the widow of Walter Reyes, a bicyclist who was killed in a hit-and-run accident in Florida on January 21. Maribel Reyes filed the lawsuit against Alejandro Alvarez, the alleged driver, and Rodrigo Alvarez, his father and the person to whom the vehicle was registered. Miami-Dade police said […]
- Family files wrongful death lawsuit over Tampa Bay motorcyclist’s death
The family of Keith Williamson, a motorcyclist who was killed in a crash, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) and the Clearwater Police Department. The crash involved a high-speed chase on the Courtney Campbell Causeway Bridge in the Tampa Bay area. Williamson was riding at the front of a […]