A South Florida doctor busted for illegally dispensing prescription opioid painkillers to cash-paying “patients” has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison.
Dr. Andres Mecia, 64, of Fort Lauderdale, ran an opioid pill mill in his Oakland Park, Florida clinic, Adult & Geriatric Institute of Florida Inc., which operated under the name AGI Medical & Dental.
According to the government’s allegations, Dr. Mencia and office personnel — Oscar Luis Ventura-Rodriguez, 41, of Ft. Lauderdale; Nadira Sampath-Grant, 51, of Margate, and John Mensah, 50, of Miami, performed sham consultations with patients seeking opioid drugs.
In these consultations, Dr. Mencia and his co-conspirators wrote prescriptions for Oxycodone, OxyContin, Percocet, and other opioid drugs in exchange for cash payments, even though the patients had no medical need for the drugs, federal prosecutors alleged.
Dr. Mencia’s co-conspirators kept track of the patients illicitly seeking the drugs by identifying them as “CS” (controlled substance) “patients.” Dr. Mencia occasionally provided the three clinic personnel with pre-signed prescriptions to issue the “CS” patients prescriptions for controlled substances in his name.
“During the course of the conspiracy, Dr. Mencia was not providing a medically meaningful consultation but was in fact acting outside the scope of his professional practice and without legitimate medical purpose,” the DOJ said in its announcement.
Federal prosecutors said Dr. Mencia ran his opioid-dispensing scheme from January 2014 through October 2017. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, investigators said Dr. Mencia prescribed more than 1.2 million dosage units of opioid drugs to his patients just in the period between January 2015 and August 2017.
In addition to his 78-month prison sentence, Dr. Mecia was ordered to pay a $250,000 fine and a $4,800 forfeiture plus three years of supervised release after his sentence.
U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas also sentenced Mr. Ventura-Rodriguez to 24 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay more than $396,000 in restitution. Ms. Sampath-Grant was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and more than $396,000 in restitution. Mr. Mensah was sentenced to time served, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $132,142 in restitution.
“The opioid epidemic is ravaging communities across the country,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. “It is especially disturbing when doctors — like Andres Mencia — disregard their oaths to ‘do no harm’ in exchange for lining their pockets with illicit profits.”