Thursday, September 24, 2009
7 News Investigations: Pill Mill Money
It's no surprise that there's big money in the pain clinic business, but just how much might be shocking? Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero has obtained documents that for the first time ever show just how much money a pain clinic can make.
WSVN -- For a lot of people, the holiday season was a struggle. Last year unemployment was up, the stock market was down, but holiday business was booming at American Pain, then located off Cypress Creek. It is now in Boca Raton and draws many of its customers from out of state.
Seven News has obtained bank records that show American Pain LLC deposited $777,225.00 in cash in one month. The money came into the bank in big numbers.
In the week before Christmas $32,000 was deposited on December 22nd, $23,000 on the 23rd and $22,000 on Christmas Eve. Just before New Year's Eve another big day $32,000.
In January, business kicked up a notch. On the fifth the clinic made two deposits totaling $67,000. On January 12th another two deposits for more than $146,000. That was topped by a $155,000 deposit on the 20th.
Sheriff Al Lamberti: "This reminds me of the cocaine days of the 1980s."
Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, whose deputies fight pill sales on the streets of South Florida daily says an estimated one million Oxycodon pills are dispensed every month in Broward County. He says the records of American Pain clearly back up law enforcement's position pain clinics are big business.
Sheriff Al Lamberti: "It doesn't surprise me, but it should alarm everybody that's the amount of money that's going through this."
But even the Sheriff was surprised at the amount of money the doctors at pain clinics can make. According to bank records Seven News obtained, one doctor was paid $60,000 over a six day period another $110,000 during one month.
Sheriff Lamberti: "But that's a phenomenal, phenomenal number. What you found confirms what we've been saying all along."
The pain clinics can't exist without the doctors who write the prescriptions and increasingly authorities are looking at their actions.
Sheriff Lamberti: "They should be ashamed of themselves. Number one they're violating the oath that they took on becoming a doctor and they're just taking advantage of people who are less fortunate. That's a real, real problem and that's just despicable."
Carmel Cafiero: "The manager of American Pain turned down my request for an interview about the bank records. As long as there's big money to be made, it appears the pain clinics and their fallout will remain part of South Florida's landscape."