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Press Release

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Tampa-Area Physician, Pharmacy, and Clinic Owners for Controlled Substances Act Violations

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The United States filed a civil complaint seeking to permanently enjoin the owners of a Tampa-area clinic and pharmacy from unlawfully dispensing opioids and other controlled substances, the Department of Justice announced today.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the government alleges that Dr. Tobias Bacaner, Theodore Ferguson II, and Timothy Ferguson used Paragon Community Healthcare Inc., to unlawfully issue controlled substance prescriptions, and Cobalt Pharmacy Inc., to unlawfully fill controlled substance prescriptions, all in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. The complaint alleges that the defendants ignored obvious signs of abuse or diversion when issuing and filling opioid prescriptions. The complaint also alleges that drug toxicity played a role in the deaths of several individuals who received controlled substances from the defendants.

“The opioid addiction epidemic continues to devastate communities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners will hold accountable those who illegally distribute and dispense opioids.”

“The illicit proliferation and abuse of opioids, by any means, remains a growing threat to communities across the country,” said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez for the Middle District of Florida. “When these means include the breach of trust and illegal conduct of medical professionals, for profit, it is even more disturbing. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work with its partners to investigate and prosecute those who violate their oath and put the public at risk.”

“DEA will not tolerate individuals who seek to profit from addiction and prey on vulnerable populations,” said Acting Administrator D. Christopher Evans of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “We will use every tool at our disposal to stop and bring to justice those who willfully endanger others and exacerbate the opioid epidemic.”

The complaint alleges that Bacaner, a medical doctor licensed in Florida, wrote prescriptions for potent and dangerous opioids outside the usual course of professional practice. The complaint alleges that Bacaner and his business partners, Theodore and Timothy Ferguson, profited from unlawful prescribing at the Fergusons’ cash-only pain clinic, Paragon Community Healthcare, and that patients from Paragon often took those same prescriptions to the defendants’ jointly owned pharmacy, Cobalt Pharmacy. The complaint seeks civil penalties as well as a permanent injunction against the defendants.  

A civil complaint is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay S. Griffin and Trial Attorney Scott Dahlquist of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch. The investigation is being conducted by the DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad in the Tampa District Office.

Updated February 19, 2021

Consumer Protection
Press Release Number: 21-167