Owners and manager of Tampa pill mill receive 30-year prison sentence

The owners of what police say was the largest pill mill in Tampa were sentenced to 30 years in prison on September 19, after what was reported to be the longest trial in Hillsborough County’s history.

Michele Gonzalez and Jorge Gonzalez-Betancourt were convicted of racketeering and drug trafficking charges in March. The married couple were the owners of 1st Medical Group, a licensed pain clinic that prosecutors say the pair used as a front to sell opioid prescriptions to addicts and dealers, some of whom traveled from faraway states to reach the supplier.

The trial lasted four and a half months, with five days of jury deliberation. At sentencing, the Gonzalezes and their former office manager, Maureen Altman, were each sentenced to 30 years in prison. The Gonzalezes were each fined $750,000, and Altman was fined $500,000. Altman was the only defendant to address the court, saying that she took the job in order to support herself.

Judge Caroline Tesche said the defendants were responsible for an organized criminal enterprise that profited on the backs of addicts.

People who have suffered harm due to improper prescription and dispensation of drugs may be able to obtain compensation by pursuing a pharmaceutical negligence lawsuit. Contact Joyce & Reyes to learn more about your rights.

Wrongful death lawsuit filed by family of man who died in fall down elevator shaft

After Chad Wolfe fell to his death down an elevator shaft at Tampa International Airport, his family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority and the company that built and maintained the elevator. The family filed the suit on September 26 in Hillsborough County Circuit Court.

Wolfe was seen on airport security cameras at about 1:00 a.m. on March 15, 2013, when he entered an elevator on the third floor of the airport terminal. Officials said he took the elevator to the parking garage on the seventh floor. His body was found later that morning on top of the elevator car, which was stuck on the first floor. An airport police report said that Wolfe appeared to have forced the elevator doors open, but the lawsuit claims that his death was caused by an elevator malfunction.

The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Wolfe’s death an accident and determined that he was intoxicated at the time of his death. The lawsuit claims that Schindler Elevator Corp. breached its duty to properly maintain, inspect and repair the elevator, and that Wolfe’s death was caused by negligence on the part of Schindler and the aviation authority.

An airport spokesman said that the elevators were inspected and found to be safe.