MIAMI – Thirteen individuals, including five doctors, one pharmacist and one chiropractor, were charged today for their participation in the illegal distribution of pain killers, steroids and human growth hormones through “pill mills” operating in Broward, Palm Beach and Martin Counties in Florida, and through the internet, respectively. The charges in this case, dubbed “Operation Juice Doctor 2,” involve a wide-ranging scheme to illegally distribute these drugs nationwide.
The indictment, filed Aug. 31, 2011, and unsealed today, was announced by Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice; Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; and Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Miami Field Division.
“According to the indictment unsealed today, these defendants were involved in a scheme to push dangerous drugs -- steroids, human growth hormone and oxycodone -- into the hands of buyers who lacked legitimate prescriptions,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “Sadly, the defendants include physicians who, we allege, were doctors doing harm: ignoring their oaths and obligation to put the health and safety of patients first.”
U.S. Attorney Ferrer stated, “Operation Pill Nation, Operation Snake Oil, Operation Oxy Alley, and now Operation Juice Doctor 2. In a span of just six months, we have attacked from every angle what can only be described as a homegrown prescription drug epidemic. In Operation Juice Doctor2, we have charged corrupt pharmacy and clinic owners, complicit doctors and employees, all of whom made a handsome living dealing in prescription drugs, while hiding behind a medical license. Working with our federal and local partners, we are shutting down these dangerous pill mills and internet pharmacy operations.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Trouville added, “Today’s announcement reflects the Drug Enforcement Administration’s continued efforts to take the profit out of the illegal diversion of pharmaceutical drugs. Furthermore, we are sending the message once again to those that are still profiting and those who are considering entering this business, that we remain vigilant and aggressively pursue those conducting business outside the course of accepted medical practice.”
The 42-count indictment charges the defendants with numerous crimes, including conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids (count 1); distribution of anabolic steroids (counts 2 through 21); conspiracy to distribute oxycodone (count 22); distribution of oxycodone (counts 23 through 25); conspiracy to distribute human growth hormone (count 26); distribution of human growth hormone (counts 27 through 41); and attempted importation of anabolic steroids (count 42).
Charged in the indictment are Peter DelToro, Pharm.D., 38, of Palm City, Fla.; Richard DelToro, 60, of Port St. Lucie, Fla.; Jaclyn Rubino, 31, of Stuart, Fla.; Pedro Carrillo, M.D., 52, of Escondido, Calif.; Jeffrey Perelman, M.D., 54, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla; Paul Joyce, 49, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; Charles Cook, 50, of Palm Beach Gardens; Donald Montano, 74, of Jupiter, Fla.; Kevin Johnson, 41, of Jupiter; Craig Beaver, D.C., 47, of Lake Worth, Fla.; Alan Lefkin, M.D., 53, of Parkland, Fla.; Steven Pearlstein, M.D., 56, of Coral Springs, Fla.; and Timothy Sigman, M.D., 40, of Sebastian, Fla.
According to the indictment, Peter DelToro, Richard DelToro and Jaclyn Rubino operated Treasure Coast Specialty Pharmacy, in Jensen Beach, Fla., and distributed steroids, human growth hormone and oxycodone to individuals and clinics across the nation and abroad. Other defendants named in the indictment allegedly operated various clinics, including “anti-aging,” “hormone replacement therapy” and “pain management” clinics. The indictment alleges that the clinics employed physicians who signed prescriptions that were written by clinic operators and salespeople. The indictment further alleges that the prescriptions were issued without a physical examination of the patient, outside the usual course of professional medical practice, and not for a legitimate medical need. The prescriptions were for controlled substances and human growth hormone for unapproved uses.
The indictment also alleges that the clinics forwarded the prescriptions to Treasure Coast Specialty Pharmacy in Jensen Beach for filing and shipment directly to customers and, at times, to the clinics. According to the indictment, the pharmacy owner illegally attempted to import steroids, of the same type used to fill the clinics’ prescriptions, from China.
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Schedule II prescription painkillers, like oxycodone, today cause more drug overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined. Oxycodone and other Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse and can be crushed and snorted, or dissolved and injected, to get an immediate high. This abuse can lead to addiction, overdose, and sometimes death.
If convicted, the defendants face a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on counts 1, 7, 8, 10-14, 17-21 and 42; five years on counts 2-6, 9, 15, 16, and 26-41; and 20 years on count 22 through 25.
Today’s case is the result of the ongoing efforts of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement.
The case was investigated by the DEA with assistance from the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations and the Boca Raton Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Cindy Cho of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen L. Cohen.
An indictment is only an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.