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Articles Posted in Doctor Shopping

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A joint investigation conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Ft. Myers Regional Operations Center and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office in August resulted in the arrest of a Collier County Corrections Corporal and his wife on numerous charges of prescription drug offenses.

Agents arrested the 44-year-old Fort Myers woman on 23 counts of obtaining controlled substance by fraud and two counts of principal in the first degree for obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. Her husband, a 29-year-old Correctional Corporal for the
Collier County Sheriff’s Office was arrested on two counts of obtaining controlled substance by fraud and two counts of principal in the first degree for obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.

The investigation apparently began in January 2012 after the FDLE received information from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office that the alleged suspects were fraudulently obtaining numerous controlled substances at pharmacies in Lee and Collier counties.

prescription pills betch.jpgPolice claim that the woman fraudulently called in prescriptions and/or refills for Xanax, Vicodin and Ambien into various pharmacies for herself and her husband while she was employed at Advanced Medical Center in Naples.

The woman was booked into the Lee County Jail while her husband was booked into the Collier County Jail.

Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud is a third-degree felony in Florida. Fraudulently obtaining medical prescriptions can carry very serious consequences, including multiple years in prison. In order to prove this crime, prosecutors in the state of Florida must prove that the controlled substances were obtained through misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.

There are many ways to fraudulently obtain medical prescriptions, some of which include:

• Falsifying Prescriptions
• Altering Prescriptions
• Counterfeiting Prescriptions
• Impersonating a Doctor
• Stealing Blank Prescription Pads
• Using One Prescription to Obtain Multiple Refills
• Visiting Multiple Doctors for Medical Prescriptions, also known as “Doctor Shopping”

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The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has arrested more than 60 people, including the alleged ringleader, in one of the largest and most complex prescription drug fraud rings in Sarasota County to date.

The alleged leader, 35, was recently charged with conspiracy to traffic controlled substances as part of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office’s Operation Main Pain. The others arrested were charged with obtaining and trafficking controlled substances.

The man, who is currently in jail in Dade County on unrelated charges, is accused of running a large drug crime ring in 2011, according to Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives allege that from June to October that year, the man wrote approximately 220 prescriptions that were exchanged for nearly 20,000 oxycodone pills at local pharmacies primarily in Sarasota and Venice.

There were 91 oxycodone overdose deaths reported in 2011, according to Sgt. Debra Kaspar, head of the Pharmaceutical Diversion Unit.

prescription pad.jpgThe man is accused of recruiting people to work beneath him and locate runners, predominately of Cuban descent, who were paid for their personal information or to drive people to the different pharmacies to pick up prescriptions. According to the arrest report, those that gave their permission to use their personal information on prescriptions were paid $100 to $300. The others that drove people to the pharmacies to pick up oxycodone, ibuprofen or Xanax pills were paid up to $2,000 per week. All transactions were paid in cash.

The recruiters allegedly gathered the pills from the runners and gave them to the accused ringleader.

The pills had a street value of $300,000, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives claim that the alleged ringleader was selling the drugs to drug dealers, who would then sell them or send them off to other locations.

The sudden flood of prescriptions apparently came to a halt a few months after one of the alleged ringleader’s recruits was arrested.

Arrests have been ongoing since 2011, with some of the most recent arrests occurring last week. Detectives claim there are several warrants that are still active.

Two of the pharmacies involved apparently filled more than 200 of the fraudulent prescriptions in the short time period. Three other pharmacies involved filled 10 prescriptions total.

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says it works to educate pharmacies to notice red flags. Detectives claim the pharmacies should have noticed something suspicious when so many related prescriptions were being brought in by similar customers from the same doctor.

However, the pharmacies apparently never notified authorities.

Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud, also known as “Doctor Shopping” has become a trending criminal offense in Sarasota County and throughout the state of Florida. With the ever increasing amounts of suspected prescription drug abuse, police officers are placed under a tremendous amount of pressure to locate any alleged offenders as well as the pharmacies filling these prescriptions. In fact, tracking systems have been developed to monitor patient’s medical records and pharmacy histories. While these electronic databases help law enforcement maintain tabs on the amount of prescriptions being prescribed and filled, they place doctors and patients at risk for being charged with a prescription drug crime, even if the prescription is valid.

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Six Citrus County, Florida residents have been arrested and are facing various drug charges after investigations conducted by the Sheriff’s Office and the CCSO’s Tactical Impact Unit and Pharmacy Diversion Unit revealed illegal dealings of prescription narcotics.

The arrests ranged from doctor shopping to hydrocodone trafficking. Several of the supposed suspects, ranging in age from 22 to 57, are accused of selling cocaine and other substances as well as selling their prescription pills for a profit.

A CCSO spokesperson mentioned that the introduction of Florida’s new prescription drug monitoring program E-FORCSE or Electronic – Florida Online Reporting of Controlled Substances Evaluation makes it easier than ever to monitor who may be doctor shopping. Law enforcement agents, doctors and pharmacists can use the program to see what drugs patients are receiving and from what doctors.

Doctor shopping also known as Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud has become an increasingly popular charge in Florida. Due to the large amount of pressure placed upon law enforcement to track down those suspected of prescription drug abuse, new tracking systems have been developed to monitor patient’s medical records and pharmacy histories. These amped up security measures put doctors as well as patients at a greater risk for being accused of committing a prescription drug crime. Electronic databases put even patients given legal prescriptions to treat an injury or illness in jeopardy of a drug crime arrest.

Doctor shopping, in general, is when a patient visits multiple doctors to gain access to multiple prescriptions. It is illegal for patients to visit different doctors without disclosing that information to them, even if they are under the care of several physicians for legitimate reasons. In the State of Florida, doctor shopping is classified as a third-degree felony that carries mandatory penalties and could include up to five years in State Prison. In addition, the State can charge every transaction as a separate crime, which could result in multiple consecutive sentences.

The Florida Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are experienced with how the State Attorney’s Office investigates these types of crimes and will work to get your charges related to doctor shopping or any other type of drug charge reduced or dismissed. As trial attorneys, we treat every case as if it is going to trial and can provide you with a solid defense no matter what the circumstances are surrounding your arrest.

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