A Florida doctor took part in a conspiracy to illegally funnel hundreds of thousands of pills into northeast Kentucky and nearby areas, a federal jury has ruled.
Jurors convicted Dr. Clara S. Rodriguez-Iznaga on Tuesday of conspiring to distribute drugs and launder money.
Rodriguez-Iznaga worked at a South Florida pain clinic called Florida Global Medical. Hundreds of people from Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia traveled to the clinic to get prescriptions for pain pills, according to court records and a news release from U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey.
The clinic was an example of the once-notorious pill pipeline from shady clinics in Florida to Appalachia, in which addicts and traffickers brought pills back from Florida to abuse and sell at home.
Many of the people who went to Rodriguez-Iznaga's office were from Boyd, Greenup and Lawrence counties in Kentucky, and nearby parts of Ohio and West Virginia, according to court records.
Evidence at Rodriguez-Iznaga's trial, held in Ashland, showed that she illegally prescribed 600,000 oxycodone pills at Florida Global in one year starting in mid-2008.
Witnesses said they also went to other Florida clinics, but that they had an easier time getting prescriptions from Rodriguez-Iznaga than from other doctors, according to Harvey's office.
Rodriguez-Iznaga saw as many as 35 patients a day, who paid $150 to $160 in cash. She also oversaw the in-house pharmacy, where filling the prescriptions could cost more than $1,000, Harvey said in the news release. Rodriguez-Iznaga, who gave people prescriptions after little or no examination, raked in about $640,000 in one year.
There was little regulation of pain clinics in Florida at the time, and the state was notorious as a pill supplier in Appalachia and along the Eastern Seaboard.
Rodriguez-Iznaga set up Florida Global with a Portsmouth, Ohio, man named Jody Robinson, who had worked in the auto-body repair business before deciding to peddle pills, according to a court document.
In an attempt to thwart investigators, Rodriguez-Iznaga and Robinson hired a guard to watch for informants and undercover police, Harvey said.
Robinson, who later set up a clinic in Ohio, and William J. Muldoon Jr., a Florida man involved with the businesses, pleaded guilty last month and will be sentenced next year.
A total of about 30 people have been convicted of charges related to the case, Harvey said.
Each charge on which Rodriguez-Iznaga was convicted carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. She is to be sentenced next year.