Articles Posted in Obtaining Controlled Substance by Fraud

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A Clearwater doctor has been accused of writing fraudulent prescriptions in order to obtain the controlled substances for herself, according to police.

The 50-year-old doctor was arrested Monday at a pain management clinic in Clearwater. She has been charged with  two counts of obtaining or attempting to obtain controlled substances by fraud.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office claims they began investigating the woman last month after detectives received a tip that the woman was allegedly writing prescriptions for oxycodone using patients’ names and filling them for herself.

5116635021_77b9367552_mDetectives believe the Tampa Bay area doctor filled those prescriptions at several pharmacies around Pinellas County. Investigators allege that they have surveillance video that displays the woman picking up one of those prescriptions for oxycodone.

The woman was arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail without further incident. She was released later in the day after posting $10,000 bail.

The investigation is ongoing, according to police.

Many people that find themselves facing charges of prescription fraud are actually upstanding individuals that had a brief lapse in judgment, became addicted to a prescription after receiving medical treatment or are just being falsely accused. As this case shows, even health professionals like doctors and pharmacists can be slapped with charges of prescription fraud. If you or a loved one has been charged with a prescription drug crime, it is absolutely vital to speak with a Pinellas County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton immediately.

Doctors, just like unlicensed individuals, can be arrested for prescription fraud. It is illegal for a doctor to write a false prescription, just as it is illegal for anyone else to forge a prescription.

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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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