OCT 30 (PENSACOLA, Fla.) –Freeport physician Robert L. Ignasiak, Jr., 58, pled guilty yesterday to 12 counts of health care fraud, 29 counts of illegally distributing controlled substances, and one count of failing to appear for trial. The plea was announced by Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, and Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
Between 2001 and 2005, while operating the Freeport Medical Clinic, Ignasiak developed a reputation as a physician who freely prescribed highly addictive controlled substances. During that time, he prescribed drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, diazepam, and alprazolam in quantities, dosages, and combinations that caused his patients to abuse, misuse, and become addicted to the drugs. He continued to prescribe these substances even after becoming aware that his patients were abusing them. He did so despite indications that his patients were not taking the medicines as prescribed, were stealing drugs, “doctor shopping,” taking the medicines with alcohol, and were suffering overdoses.
Ignasiak was initially indicted on these charges in 2008. Following a jury trial, he was convicted of 12 counts of health care fraud and 31 counts of illegally distributing controlled substances. Ignasiak’s convictions were reversed on appeal in 2012. He was released from custody, and a retrial was scheduled. On October 31, 2012, Ignasiak faked his own suicide and became a fugitive from justice. Almost a year later, in September 2013, he was arrested in Coral Springs, Florida, while handing out leaflets for a pressure washing company, under a false name.
Ignasiak will be sentenced on January 14, 2014, by Senior United States District Judge Lacey Collier. He faces maximum prison sentences of 10 years for health care fraud, 20 years for drug distribution, and 10 years for failure to appear.
The case resulted from a four-year investigation by the North Florida Health Care Fraud Task Force, comprised of the DEA, Florida Attorney General’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Drug Intelligence Center Document Exploitation Division, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Walton County Sheriff’s Office, and State Surgeon General, Florida Department of Health.