A Homosassa, Florida family doctor described by police as a drug dealer with a medical license and a lab coat was arrested Tuesday and charged with two counts of trafficking in hydrocodone and one count of criminal conspiracy to traffic in hydrocodone. The 71-year-old doctor of osteopathy was taken into custody at his family practice where he voluntarily forfeited his medical license to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
According to the Citrus County Chronicle Online, the doctor’s bail was set at $1.5 million and the investigation is ongoing. If convicted of any of the crimes, just one of the counts could carry a sentence of over 20 years. At 71, this would be tantamount to a life sentence.
Police supposedly recovered 9,000 pills from the doctor’s office, but believed there should have been around 18,000. Since January 2010, law enforcement believes he has been responsible for dispensing about 42,000 pills. The Department of Health investigated into the doctor’s past records and believes 300,000 pills with a street value of $1.8 million were; sold since 2005.
The doctor allegedly sold the pills to street-level dealers who then sold the pills for as much as $5 to $6 each. The Citrus County State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement were able to make multiple undercover controlled purchases of prescription hydrocodone pills throughout the county. Of the thousands of pills exchanged during these transactions, they were all allegedly tracked back to the Homosassa doctor and his medical offices.
A FDLE Special Agent said that the Tampa Bay region leads the state in the number of deaths linked to prescription drugs. Though the region only accounts for 17 percent of the state’s population, it accounts for 29 percent of the prescription drug deaths in the state.
Police said this is a unique case because the doctor involved was not a pain management doctor.
In most drug trafficking cases in Florida, criminal prosecutors usually file conspiracy charges along with trafficking charges in an attempt to seek convictions for both drug trafficking and an agreement to traffic drugs. To be convicted of conspiracy, the crime does not actually have to be completed. The most essential aspect of conspiracy is that two or more individuals come to an agreement or an understanding thus entering into a criminal venture. Conspiracy ends once an act advances the crime and the participants complete the criminal endeavor or someone extracts themselves from the situation.
Proving drug trafficking requires substantiating possession with the intent to dispense a controlled substance. Sentences are determined through the weight value of the total pills in question. A trafficking charge of hydrocodone at minimum is a three year sentence with a fine of $50,000 and a maximum of 25 years in prison plus a fine of $500,000.
If you or someone you love has been accused of drug trafficking in the state of Florida, contact the Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at the Law Offices of Whittel & Melton, LLC online or call 352-726-0078 or 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).