Dr. Vijay Chowdary, Jason Boyd, Jason Rodriguez, Harish Chowdary, Amanda Bozer, Nestor Merces, and Hector Bruno were indicted in a Broward County, Florida pill mill investigation on Wednesday, a press release by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida indicates. Vijay Chowdary, 69, of Boca Raton; Boyd, 43, of Davie; Rodriguez, 36, of Fort Lauderdale; Harish Chowdary, 64, of Fort Lauderdale; Amanda Bozer, 34, of Fort Lauderdale; Hector Bruno, 35, of Pembroke Pines; and Nestor Merces, Jr., 35, of New York are facing multiple charges, including conspiracy to distribute, dispense and possess controlled substances and money laundering. It is unclear whether the defendants have qualified for bail bond or hired lawyers.
According to reports, the defendants operated Intracoastal Medical Groups, Inc., a medical clinic that is located on Intercostal Drive in Fort Lauderdale. The clinic was allegedly opened by Jason Boyd until 2012, when new legislation was put in place requiring pain clinic owners to hold a medical license. At that point, Dr. Chowdary allegedly took over as the official owner of the clinic.
Reports say detectives have been investigating suspicions that the clinic has been operating as a pill mill 18 months. During that investigation, detectives learned that, since October 2010, Dr. Chowdary had been writing narcotic prescriptions to patients after only brief visits, the release states. A DEA spokesperson commented on the case, saying, "This is a text book example of an illegal prescription drug trafficking organization. These rogue doctors and greedy drug dealers tried to make a pill mill look like a legitimate business. The days of profiting from these crimes have come to an end for these seven defendants. The diversion of pharmaceutical drugs remains a priority for the DEA and our law enforcement partners in South Florida. We will stay committed to ridding our communities of those who look to become rich from the diversion of powerful prescription medications.
The indictment says that Chowdary would agree "to prescribe oxycodone and other controlled substances to patients without regard to medical necessity, with only a cursory physical examination of the patient." In some cases, dealers or others would reportedly drive many miles to the clinic to procure large portions of prescription narcotics, including oxycodone.
To keep their pill mill clinic from being detected, the indictment alleges that the defendants "created and used a number of false documents," including Florida identification cards to make it appear as though out-of-state patients lived in Florida and false MRI reports. In certain cases, the defendants allegedly threw out urinalysis results that showed some patients had been consuming cocaine and similar narcotics. It is not clear from the indictment what role each defendant, other than Dr. Chowdary, played in the alleged scheme.
Drug Enforcement Administration detectives conducted a raid at Intracoastal Medical Groups, Inc. on Wednesday. The detectives took prescription drugs from the clinic, reports say. So far, six of the seven defendants have been arrested.
A U.S. Attorney Spokesperson also commented, saying, "As this case demonstrates, federal and local law enforcement continue to stand united to tackle the pill mill epidemic that has plagued Broward County and our state. Together, we are making a positive difference, as we continue to bring down these unscrupulous doctors and drug dealers who seek to hide behind a medical license. Pill mill operators be warned: we are not done yet."