Opioid Crackdown Nets South Florida Doctor as Efforts Intensify

A South Florida doctor is the latest to be sentenced for his role in the illegal distribution of opioids. Earlier this month, Dr. Andres Mencia of Fort Lauderdale was sentenced to more than six years in prison, after being convicted by a federal jury of taking part in a conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

Mencia’s arrest and conviction are part of a large scale war on illegal opioid trafficking. In April, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced it had reached a prescription drug information-sharing agreement with 48 Attorneys General to share prescription drug information with one another to aid investigations.According to evidence presented during his trial, Dr. Mencia ran Adult & Geriatric Institute of Fort Lauderdale where, between January 2014 and October 2017, he and others in his office performed “sham” consultations with cash-paying patients. These “consultations,” according to evidence presented during the trial, were for the intended purpose of improperly issuing prescriptions for opioids and other narcotics, including Oxycodone, OxyContin and Percocet, in exchange for cash.

The doctor’s office personnel who assisted, kept track of drug-seeking patients by identifying them as “CS” (controlled substance) patients and in some cases Dr. Mencia provided pre-signed prescriptions for controlled substances to issue to those patients.

In addition to his prison sentence, Dr. Mencia must forfeit $4,800 and was ordered to pay a $250,000 fine. His co-conspirators, identified as Oscar Luis Ventura-Rodriguez, 41, of Ft. Lauderdale; Nadira Sampath-Grant, 51, of Margate, and John Mensah, 50, of Miami, previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced.

A number of different law enforcement agencies including the Drug Enforcement Agency, Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, Homeland Security Intelligence, as well as local police departments, were all involved in the investigation.

With the opioid epidemic out of control, federal agencies are coming down hard on those who game the system. As we wrote about in June, the Justice Department charged 601 people across 58 federal districts for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics – 76 of those were doctors.

Earlier this year, the DEA announced that it was analyzing transaction reports from DEA-registered manufacturers and distributors, as well as reports submitted on suspicious orders and drug thefts and information shared by federal partners, such as the Department of Health and Human Services.

Understanding how these investigations are initiated can help you avoid becoming a target of this intensified opioid crackdown. If you are a physician or pharmacist facing opioid-related charges, the first thing you should do is seek the assistance of an experienced attorney. The Health Law Offices of Anthony C. Vitale can help you protect your interests and defend your practice. We have a long track record of assisting clients in criminal matters. If you have any questions contact us at 305-358-4500 or email us at info@vitalehealthlaw.com.

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