Clinic owner charged with running $15 million pill mill - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Clinic owner charged with running $15 million pill mill

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Joel Shumrak Joel Shumrak

The owner of a South Florida pain clinic is accused of writing prescriptions for trouble, supplying out of state dealers and drug addicts with some popular pain pills. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero has the exclusive.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- According to federal authorities, $15 million in pain pills traveled through the Pain Center of Broward and into the hands of addicts and drug dealers in Kentucky.

7Skyforce hovered over the scene on Tuesday as the Fort Lauderdale clinic was raided and the clinic's owner, Joel Shumrak, was arrested. The 66-year-old is accused of running a pill mill.

Carmel Cafiero: "Good morning. Are you Mr. Shumrak?"

Joel Shumrak: "No."

Carmel Cafiero: "You're not?"

It was 2012, and it was Shumrak. Carmel Cafiero was questioning Shumrak about Dr. Leonard Haimes, who worked for Shumrak until the doctor's license was suspended.

The state accused him of prescribing more than 10,000 highly addictive oxycodone and other pain pills to five patients.

Cafiero: "I'd like to talk with you about Dr. Haimes and the suspension."

Shumrak: "I can't talk about Dr. Haimes."

Cafiero: "Why not? This is your clinic. He's been accused of failing to..."

Shumrak: "Dr. Haimes doesn't work here anymore."

Cafiero: "Right, but he was working here when the state claimed."

Haimes' license was later revoked, but Shumrak continued in business, until now.

"Thank you, God, that the DEA in Kentucky worked in conjunction with our DEA, federal and closed them down," said Janet Colbert of STOPP Now, a group that rallies against pill mills.

Activists have protested at the clinic for years and consider Shumrak's arrest a success.

Maureen Kielian, also of STOPP Now, asked, "My question now, this clinic's closed, what about the doctors? Because you can't have a pill mill without a physician. They are the root problem. Florida has failed its citizens."

The clinic was accused of causing the overdose deaths of two of those citizens. Heather Belleme and her boyfriend, Chance Wilson. The claim was settled, but the families' attorney thinks the clinic should have been closed long ago.

"How was he permitted to operate this clinic on a federal highway for three years after my clients had died?" said Attorney Jeffrey Fenster.

Federal authorities have seized Shumrack's assets, including 43 bank accounts, three cars and his Boca Raton home.

The business is closed, and there is an eviction notice on the door.

Today the only ones celebrating are activists who worked to get the clinic closed.

Shumrak will be sent to Kentucky to face the charges. His attorney said his client is pleading not guilty.


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