Thursday, August 29, 2013
Carmel on the Case: Inside A Pill Mill
7News has obtained video taken inside what was once South Florida's largest pill mill. For the first time we can show you exclusively how business was handled and how people were treated. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero with this special assignment report: Inside a Pill Mill.
WSVN -- Derik Nolan: "If you're just waiting to leave, waiting on somebody, I need you sitting over here, or gone."
That's Derik Nolan barking orders and threats to customers of American Pain. Clinic owner Chris George says Nolan was his best friend. He also testified that Nolan was in charge of security.
The video was taken by an undercover federal agent and used as evidence at a recent trial. The pill mill did not want customers taking their prescriptions out of state to be filled. Agents say the clinic made most of its money by selling customers oxycodone and Xanax right there, or at a pharmacy Chris George owned in Orlando.
Derik Nolan: "Florida only. If I get a call from outside of Florida for verification of a script, you will be discharged and I'll let you come back next time and I'm gonna take your money. And then I'm gonna kick you out."
When authorities raided the Lake Worth location of American Pain, they seized its security camera video. In one day, one doctor saw 74 patients. According to trial testimony, time spent with each: less than four minutes. Chris George testified that he hired doctors through Craigslist and that they could make $2,000 to $6,000 "a day." All customers paid cash only. The lobby even had an ATM.
As 7News documented, addicts were often so desperate, they crushed and injected or snorted pills outside in the clinic parking lot. But what happened inside is also disturbing. Here a customer has a seizure, falls to the floor, and is later taken away by paramedics. The video shows people coming to the clinic with their children.
Derik Nolan: "Just follow all the rules and everything will be fine. Nobody around here likes you. I like you. Nobody else does."
Nolan was caught on camera warning customers not to break any traffic laws and to make sure they knew the name of their doctor.
Derik Nolan: "But when a cop says, 'Hey, what's your doctor's name?' and he's holding your prescription bottle and you don't know it, you're going to jail."
Nolan was large and in charge, outside the clinic as well. Here with a security guard chasing the ex-wife of another employee.
Woman: "I'm scared to pull over because he's gonna get me."
And here trying to intimidate 7News.
Carmel Cafiero: "This is not your property."
Derik Nolan: "It's -- we lease it, so it is our property."
Carmel Cafiero: "You don't lease the whole area, and you have no right to tell me to leave. Public access."
But Nolan's not giving anyone orders these days. He's serving a 14-year prison sentence. Meanwhile, Chris George, his wife, his twin brother, and their mother are all behind bars for their roles in helping to make South Florida ground zero for the pill mill epidemic.
Carmel Cafiero, 7News.