WASHINGTON, D.C. (WRIC) — A federal court has shut down a pain-management clinic in the Tampa, Fla. area after its owners and former on-site physician were accused of profiting from unlawfully issued opioid prescriptions, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in a release on Wednesday, July 27.
According to a complaint filed by the DOJ in February 2021, Tobias Bacaner, a physician, allegedly wrote opioid prescriptions outside professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose while employed at Paragon Community Healthcare in New Port Richey, Fla. According to the DOJ, Paragon’s owners, Theodore Ferguson II and Timothy Ferguson, profited from the unlawful prescriptions and ignored signs of drug abuse and medical malpractice.
The complaint also accused Bacaner and the Fergusons of using the pharmacy they owned together, Cobalt Pharmacy, to illicitly fill prescriptions issued at Paragon.
Bacaner has been required by the federal court to pay $500,000 in civil penalties, according to the DOJ’s release. The court has prohibited Bacaner from prescribing, administering, dispensing or distributing controlled substances, among other restrictions.
According to the DOJ, the court ordered the Fergusons to permanently close Paragon and pay $100,000 in civil penalties. The order also placed limits on the Fergusons’ ability to own or work at establishments that administer, dispense or distribute controlled substances in the future.
Bacaner and the Fergusons have agreed to dissolve Cobalt Pharmacy, which closed after the February 2021 lawsuit was filed, the DOJ said.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad in the Tampa District Office led the investigation of this case.
“This settlement highlights DEA’s commitment to hold medical providers accountable for violating laws designed to protect the health and safety of our communities,” a special agent in charge with the DEA Miami Field Division said in the DOJ’s release. “The closure of these businesses and the prohibition to continue to exploit those in need, ensures the wellbeing of patients everywhere.”