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45 Individuals Charged in Prescription Drug Scam Operation

JAN 17 (WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) –Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge (SAC), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division (MFD), Dave Aronberg, State Attorney, Office of the State Attorney for Palm Beach County, and Ric Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO), announces the result of an 18 month investigation which charged 45 individuals involved in a multi-jurisdiction prescription drug scam operation.

This morning’s operation, which involved over 200 law enforcement officers from 11 different agencies, arrested 17 individuals charged in this investigation. Law enforcement officers will continue to locate the remaining 20 individuals until all are apprehended. Today’s operation also resulted in the seizure of one gun, approximately two pounds of cocaine, and $7000.   

As of today, 45 individuals have been charged with Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud in violation of Florida State Statute 893.13 7a9 and Trafficking in Oxycodone in violation of Florida State Statute 893.135(1) (c).

Karl Gross (31, Boynton Beach), Lorenzo May (37, Boynton Beach), Germaine McKeller (30, Lake Worth), Troy Patton (42, Boynton Beach), Jermaine Ward (30, Boynton Beach), Adam Flint (30, Boynton Beach), Angel Franco (33, Boynton Beach), Betty Guillaume (59, Boynton Beach), Brandon Kelley (30, Boynton Beach), Claudine Smith (38, West Palm Beach), Corey Gammage (32, Boynton Beach), Cynthia Williams (31, Ft. Lauderdale), Denise Howe (33, Boynton Beach),
Dimitri Menelas (39, Boynton Beach), Erin Redmon (48, West Palm Beach), Ernest Samson (44, Lake Worth), Estella Reed (57, Boynton Beach), Fred Williamson (32, West Palm Beach), Henery Lester (31, Boynton Beach), Holly Hampshire (50, West Palm Beach), James Adams (42, Boynton Beach),
James Medastin (35, Boynton Beach), Jason Lacy (31, Boynton Beach), Jauneta Griffin (52, Boynton Beach), Jean L. Cesar (34, Boynton Beach), Joseph Fitting (50, Lantana), Keyon Mack (29, Boynton Beach), Kervin Charles (29, Delray Beach), Laticia Andrews (35, Delray Beach), Louise Foster (49, West Palm Beach), Melanie Radd (32, Greenacres), Peggy Cesar-Virgil (49, Delray Beach), Piquita Gosier (41, Boynton Beach), Randy Smith (31, Boynton Beach), Ronelson Stark (39, Boynton Beach),
Roy Adams (49, Boynton Beach), Sampson Wring (30, Pompano Beach), Shakella Quinn (25, Boynton Beach), Sheppard Gross (41, Delray Beach), Sherika Jones (31, West Palm Beach), Sherry Peterson (47, Boynton Beach), Sheryl Franklin (33, Lake Worth), Stephanie Faison (39, Charlotte, NC), Teneshia Nance (38, Delray Beach), and Timothy Conner (47, Riviera Beach)

Karl Gross, Keyon Mack, Jermaine Ward, Melanie Radd, Lorenzo May, and Piquita Gosier were previously charged and arrested in this investigation prior to this morning’s operation.
Fred Williamson, Germaine McKeller, and Angle Franco who have been charged in this investigation are currently in custody in the State of Florida on unrelated charges.  These individuals will be arrested on charges resulting from this investigation at a later date.

“Our actions today are just another step forward to arresting and prosecuting those who fraudulently obtain and supply prescription drugs without medical necessity,” said DEA SAC Mark R. Trouville.  “Our efforts are far from done. The DEA will continue to work with our state and local partners to ensure these pain medications are getting into the hands of legitimate patients and those involved in the diversion of prescription drugs are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

State Attorney Dave Aronberg stated, “This investigation and these arrests are an example of how organized law enforcement, working together can better protect the citizens of our county and state from these unscrupulous pill mills.”

In August 2011, an investigation was initiated as a result of a telephone call received over the DEA Miami “Pill Mill” tip line concerning a prescription fraud complaint from a Boynton Beach Pharmacy regarding prescriptions being written out of Via Domitia pain clinic, located at 3088 Griffin Road Dania Beach, Florida 33312.  The DEA Tactical Diversion Squad working in conjunction with the PBSO identified four leaders or sponsors, Karl Gross, Troy Patton, Lorenzo May, and Jermaine Ward; who recruited individuals to fill prescriptions obtained fraudulently from employees at Via Domitia pain clinic. 

Based on the statements of cooperating witnesses and investigative activities, agents learned that Gross, Patton, May, and Ward sponsored approximately 41 individuals in their prescription drug trafficking operation and fraudulently obtained approximately 45,000 oxycodone pills from April 2011 to November 2011.  Based on the information learned in this investigation, these prescription medications were sold at the street value of $20 to $30 per pill.  It is believed that these four sponsors made approximately $3000 per bottle containing 180 oxycodone pills.  
Each fraudulent prescription was for either 180 oxycodone or 120 to 180 Percocet, with the total number of prescription pills obtained by fraud numbering in the thousands.    Each fraudulent prescription which was filled for a Schedule II narcotic is being considered as a separate count and carries either a 15 or 25 year minimum mandatory sentence in the Florida State Judicial System, depending on the total weight of the narcotics involved in each offense, with many of the targeted individuals having filled several fraudulent prescriptions. 

This is an ongoing investigation and additional arrests and charges are pending.

This investigation was conducted by the DEA MFD Tactical Diversion Squad with the assistance of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Health, Broward Sheriff’s Office, Boynton Beach Police Department, Hollywood Police Department, Sunrise Police Department
Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol, Miami-Dade Police Department,
City of Miami Police Department, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, and Delray Beach Police Department.  This investigation is being prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney, 15th Judicial Circuit in West Palm Beach, FL.

In February 2011, due to the overwhelming community response received as a result of Operation Pill Nation, the DEA MFD initiated the “Pill Mill” tip line. The 24 hour, toll free tip line allows community members to provide information on doctors, clinics, pharmacies, or individuals they are concerned with relating to the diversion of prescription medication in South Florida.   The toll free number is 1-888-954-4662, and the email address is Florida.Pill.Mill.Tips@usdoj.gov.
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