Florida pill mill operator sentenced to six years in prison

A Florida “pill mill” operator was sentenced to six years in federal prison, after prosecutors said he made “exceptional” efforts to help investigators, which led to convictions of other people involved in illegal distribution of prescription drugs.

Pasquale Gervasio who helped run pain clinics in Florida, which were raided in 2011, pleaded guilty to a money-laundering conspiracy. Between March 2010 and June 2011, the clinics distributed over two million doses of oxycodone, a highly addictive painkiller.

Gervasio was facing up to 10 years in prison, but prosecutors recommended his sentence be reduced after he provided help to the prosecution. Their recommendation was followed by U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley. Earlier this year, Gervasio provided testimony against his former business partner Richard McMillan, at his trial on state charges. McMillan was convicted and is serving a 35-year sentence in state prison for racketeering and drug trafficking.

Gervasio and McMillan ran a chain of pain clinics known as Total Medical Express. Gervasio provided information to prosecutors and law enforcement that led to arrests and convictions. He also agreed to pay restitution of about $1.6 million. According to court records, he has already turned over funds in excess of $600,000.

The illegal distribution of prescription drugs can cause severe harm to individuals who may be suffering from addiction. Operators of pill mills, in addition to being criminally prosecuted, may face civil lawsuits for money damages filed by people harmed by their actions. Anyone who has been injured because of improper prescription or distribution of medication should contact an attorney to learn more about their rights.

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 deliberation, the jury convicted him on all counts.

McMillan ran a chain of clinics called Total Medical Express with his business partner Pasquale Gervasio before a statewide drug task force raided the clinics in 2011. Officials from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration said that the clinics, which operated in several locations in Florida, are estimated to have generated almost $13.5 million, by issuing prescriptions and distributing oxycodone to people without proper medical reasons.

McMillan is scheduled to be sentenced by Circuit Judge Cheryl Caracuzzo on the convictions of racketeering, conspiracy and nine counts of oxycodone trafficking. He could face between 25 years and 330 years in prison. In his defense, McMillan and his attorneys said that the clinics did not issue prescriptions to everyone who asked, claiming that 1,274 patients were discharged without being treated.

In addition to facing criminal charges, medical providers may be liable for pharmaceutical negligence if they cause injury to patients by improperly prescribing or distributing medication. If you or a loved one was injured due to a medical mistake or misconduct, contact Joyce & Reyes for a free consultation.

Florida man sentenced in pill mill case

A Florida man was sentenced to 44 months in prison and three years of supervised release for unlawfully operating a pill mill in Georgia that made over $1.8 million.

Marc Frazier was also ordered to give up assets of more than $500,000 from the pill mill. The “pain management clinic” known as Apex Health & Wellness was owned by Frazier from November 2011 to April 2013. Prosecutors said that customers received prescriptions for controlled substances when there was no valid medical purpose, often paying up to $300 in cash to the clinic for the prescriptions.

Frazier hired medical doctor Paul Ruble to work at the clinic. Ruble is awaiting sentencing on similar charges after pleading guilty.

According to authorities, during the 17 months that the clinic operated, an average of 30 patients per day received prescriptions for alprazolam and oxycodone. Prosecutors said that more than 400 deposits were made to the pain clinic’s bank account, totaling over $1.8 million.

In addition to facing criminal charges, medical providers who prescribe drugs improperly and cause patients harm may face civil liability in the form of a lawsuit for pharmaceutical negligence. Anyone who has been injured by a pill mill or an error made by a doctor or pharmacist should consult with an attorney.

Two Florida doctors to begin serving pill mill sentences

Two Florida doctors must begin serving their prison sentences in October, three years after their convictions on money laundering charges related to a chain of Florida pill mills, a federal judge ruled.

Cynthia Cadet must turn herself in to begin serving a 6 1/2 year sentence on Oct. 3, while Joseph Castronuovo was given until Oct. 18 to begin serving his 18-month sentence, because he needs medical treatment. Both had been free on bond since their convictions in July 2013, but U.S. District Judge Kenneth Mara ruled that they must report to prison.

Castronuovo and Cadet were among 32 individuals, including several doctors, who were charged in a large pill mill indictment, targeting a chain of pain management clinics that improperly distributed prescription pain pills such as oxycodone. Castronuovo and Cadet were the only physicians to fight the charges. A Florida jury found the doctors not guilty of most of the counts against them, but guilty of a money laundering conspiracy related to the payments they received for their work at the clinics.

Castronuovo was paid over $160,000 and Cadet was paid over $1.2 million. The two were hired after responding to ads on Craigslist. The doctors signed documents each week before receiving their pay that stated that they did not witness anything illegal take place.

In addition to criminal charges, doctors, pharmacists and others who improperly distribute medications can face civil charges for the harm that they cause. Anyone injured by pharmaceutical negligence should contact an attorney to learn about their rights. You may be entitled to compensation.

Tampa area pill mill doctor sentenced to prison

On May 23, a federal judge sentenced Edward Feldman, age 76, to 25 years in federal prison. As a doctor, he improperly prescribed pain medications to addicts in his Tampa area clinic, leading to three patient deaths, a jury found.

U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore told Feldman, “You became a drug pusher,” and said he would have the rest of his life “to think about that.” Ahead of Feldman’s sentencing hearing, he was facing a minimum of 20 years in prison and up to life. Talks between the judge and attorneys lowered the maximum to 30 years, but the minimum was set by statute.

Feldman asked the judge to show mercy in sentencing his wife, Kim Feldman, 66, who was scheduled to be sentenced after him. Ms. Feldman managed her husband’s office and was facing a possible sentence of between 15 and 19 years in prison, but her attorney had asked for probation.

After a 17-day trial in February, both Feldmans were convicted of multiple counts in a conspiracy that involved prescribing drugs outside of legitimate medical purposes. Feldman also relinquished his medical license in February.

Doctors and pain clinics and pharmacies found to have caused injury to patients through improper prescriptions can also be held accountable through civil lawsuits. Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one as a result of pharmaceutical negligence should contact Joyce & Reyes for a free consultation.

Tampa Bay area pill mill doctor and wife convicted on drug charges

A Tampa doctor who practiced in Pinellas Park, and his wife, were convicted of federal drug conspiracy charges, for prescribing oxycodone and other medications that a jury found led to three patient deaths.

Dr. Edward Neil Feldman, a 76-year-old orthopedist, and his wife Kim Feldman, were both convicted on five related counts in a case that involved $5.7 million worth of medication and three deaths from drug overdoses. They both face time in prison, but only the doctor was charged in the deaths of the patients.

Feldman argued that patients gave him false information to fool him into prescribing drugs, but federal prosecutors said that Feldman willfully ignored warning signs. The Feldmans were ordered taken into custody with sentencing scheduled for May 23.

The doctor had been linked to more patient deaths than the three that were the subject of the case. According to news reports, Feldman’s name was on pill bottles found at multiple overdose scenes. Out of the jury’s hearing, the federal prosecutor told the judge that the government had 16 deaths to choose from in making its case.

Prescribing dangerous or inappropriate medication can constitute pharmaceutical negligence, whether it is in the context of an unethical pill mill or a doctor or pharmacy error. In addition to the criminal charges faced by pill mill operators, civil lawsuits may be filed by patients or their loved ones who are injured by such negligence.

Florida pill mill shut down, 11 arrested

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that an alleged Florida pill mill has been shut down. The closing of Swain Medical Center followed a multi-year investigation by authorities. Eleven people were arrested in connection with the case, and one remains at large.

According to authorities, the pill mill filled fraudulent prescriptions for over one million doses of pain medication, including oxycodone and hydromorphone. The highly addictive prescription pain pills have an estimated street value in excess of $16 million, authorities said.

Authorities said that the defendants used unlicensed medical workers as well as doctors to issue fraudulent prescriptions for medications that were then sold throughout South Florida. Prescriptions issued by the center were found as far away as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

The defendants face charges including conspiracy to sell illegal drugs, conspiracy to sell oxycodone, and racketeering. They will be prosecuted by the Office of Statewide Prosecution, part of the Attorney General’s Office. There is a 25-year mandatory minimum prison sentence associated with the drug trafficking conspiracy charges.

People who fraudulently or negligently prescribe medications that cause harm to users may also face civil lawsuits. People who are injured as a result of pharmaceutical negligence may be able to obtain compensation through a lawsuit. Contact Joyce & Reyes for more information.

Convicted Florida pill mill owner testifies in doctor’s murder trial

Jeffrey George, a convicted Florida pill mill owner, testified in the trial of a doctor accused of murder in the overdose death of a patient.

George, who is serving a prison sentence for his involvement in a pain clinic conspiracy, testified that Dr. Gerald Klein was aware that the business model of the clinic was to keep patients on addictive drugs like oxycodone.

Klein, 81, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Joey Bartolucci, 24, one of his patients. Prosecutors said that Klein prescribed Bartolucci a high dosage of hydromorphone pills as well as Xanax in February 2009, and that Barolucci died of an overdose the next day.

George testified that Klein was aware that the East Coast Pain Clinic accepted cash only, that patients must pay $150 before seeing a doctor, and that no procedures were performed. George said that Klein was paid $4,300 per week for three days of work.

George is serving a 15 ½ year prison sentence after pleading guilty to federal charges related to the drug conspiracy.

In addition to facing criminal charges, pill mill owners and doctors may face civil lawsuits for pharmaceutical negligence filed by people who were injured by improper prescriptions. If you or a loved one suffered an injury as the result of pharmaceutical negligence, contact Joyce & Reyes for a free consultation.

Final pill mill suspect arrested

The final suspect accused of crimes related to a now defunct pain clinic has been arrested by the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

Presmil Masson Jr. was arrested June 1 on six counts of manslaughter and two counts of racketeering. Pam Bondi, the Attorney General of Florida, had announced previously that eight people had been charged in relation to the alleged pill mill operation that operated throughout Florida, including at the Real Care Medical Group office in Plantation.

Bondi said Dr. Lynn Averill and seven others sold oxycodone to drug dealers and addicts. All of the suspects, with the exception of Masson, were arrested on May 27 at locations throughout Florida, New Jersey and Illinois. According to the charges, the drugs were sold to patients for between $1 and $5 per pill.

Averill and Masson, if convicted of manslaughter and racketeering, face up to 180 years in prison. The other defendants, if convicted, face maximum penalties ranging from 60 to 180 years in prison.

When drugs are improperly prescribed or distributed, whether through an illegal pill mill operation or through other means, and such action causes injury or death, then the victim or the victim’s family may be able to file a lawsuit for pharmaceutical negligence to obtain compensation for their loss. Contact Joyce & Reyes for more information.

Former pill mill owner arrested

A former physician of a now-defunct Florida pain clinic and the former owner of the clinic are facing charges related to the trafficking of Oxycodone.

Christian Spaw was arrested on charges of conspiracy, trafficking, racketeering and manslaughter in connection to drug purchases and sales allegedly made while operating All Family Medical, a Broward County pain clinic that was allegedly a pill mill. Some of the charges related to trafficking in Oxycodone stem from 2012.

Spaw turned himself in on April 30, with his attorney by his side, after the DEA issued an arrest warrant. The most recent charge is manslaughter. Spaw’s attorney said there was an insufficient factual basis to support such a charge.

The manslaughter charge stems from the death of a patron who allegedly purchased drugs from the pain clinic and later died from cardiac arrest. The Broward County medical examiner said that the death was the result of acute combined drug toxicity, and the man’s family said that he was taking Oxycodone and Xanax.

In addition to criminal charges, operators of pill mills can face civil lawsuits for pharmaceutical negligence filed by people injured by improperly prescribed or distributed drugs.