A doctor, a clinic owner and a clinic employee were arrested today for illegally selling prescriptions of oxycodone and Xanax, totaling more than 35,000 pills, the Tampa Police Department said.
Paul Awa, a former doctor at JW Wellness, 233 W. Waters Ave., Tampa, clinic owner and manager Wade Leath, 37, of Tampa, and employee Evette Cabado, 20, of Tampa, were all arrested today, police said.
All three have been charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance, police said.
Earlier this year, police received complaints from citizens about the clinic. Police sent undercover officers and informants to the business and performed surveillance.
In August, investigators executed a search warrant and seized the records of 79 patients. Investigators learned that the clinic had fraudulently written prescriptions, issuing 31,000 oxycodone pills and 6,000 Xanax pills, said Tampa police Assistant Chief Marc Hamlin.
"The doctors were prescribing these pills outside the scope of professional practice and also outside the scope of the medical standard of care," Hamlin said.
The clinic was accepting fraudulent MRI's and fraudulent prescription histories from customers, Hamlin said.
Drug traffickers would also sponsor "fake patients" to go into the clinic to obtain pills, Hamlin said.
"We're equating this oxycodone issue to crack in the 80s," Hamlin said. "It's taking lives and destroying families at a scary rate."
After police executed the search warrant at JW Wellness in August, Awa, 59, of Oldsmar, went to work at Main Street Medical in Thonotosassa. He was arrested Wednesday at the clinic and investigators executed a search warrant on Main Street Medical.
Police also arrested three Bradenton men they said recruited patients to illegally buy pills at JW Wellness. Edward Smith, 35, Trevor Mercer, 29, and Jeremy Paul, 34, were charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance.
Jason Bliebtrey, a co-owner of JW Wellness, was also charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance. Bliebtrey, 31, is currently serving 18 months at the Suwannee Correctional Institute in Live Oak after being found guilty earlier this year of obtaining controlled substances by fraud.
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