Tampa Pill Mill Owners Sentenced To Prison For Illegal Distribution Of Opioids
Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven has sentenced Ernest Gonzalez (68, Tampa) to 46 months in federal prison and Rosa Colon (30, Tampa) to 24 months in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances for no legitimate medical purpose and not in the usual course of professional practice. As part of their sentences, the court also entered money judgments of $47,780.96 against Gonzalez and $765,356.76 against Colon which were for the proceeds of the conspiracy to illegally distribute and dispense controlled substances.
Gonzalez and Colon had pleaded guilty on September 11, 2018.
According to court documents, Gonzalez served as the president and owner of Health and Pain Center (HPC), a pain management clinic. In June 2011, Gonzalez transferred his executive title and ownership of HPC to Colon. Gonzalez and Colon hired physicians who routinely prescribed controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice and for no legitimate medical purpose to HPC’s patients. Gonzalez and Colon participated and facilitated the physicians’ illegal prescribing practices by instructing HPC employees to overlook failed urine screens and by procuring MRI studies that the physicians used to justify their opioid prescriptions. Additionally, Gonzalez and Colon operated HPC as a cash-only business that had little to no medical equipment on site, staffers with no medical training, and a high volume patient base. Gonzalez and Colon actively participated in the management and administration of HPC through October 2016 when the Drug Enforcement Administration executed a search warrant at the clinic.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration—Tampa District Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Greg Pizzo. The forfeiture was handled by Assistant United States Attorney James Muench.