24 others arrested in Oxycodone sting
By James Dean
MELBOURNE -- The list of people arrested in connection with the raid of a pain management clinic earlier this week includes the doctor running the clinic, a maintenance supervisor at a beachside apartment complex and a member of one of Brevard's founding families.
At least 24 people, ranging in age from 24 to 64, have been arrested so far following Tuesday's raid of the We Really Care Clinic on Sarno Road.
"The investigation is ongoing," Melbourne police Detective Ron Pasko said.
Tuesday, the Melbourne Police Department and Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested two people and issued 44 arrest warrants.
Dr. Sarfraz Mirza, 60, of Melbourne Beach, was charged with 11 counts of trafficking in OxyContin and the delivery or sale of controlled substances.
Investigators say Mirza wrote prescriptions for undercover agents who did not have legitimate medical conditions.
Detectives also believe Mirza's office manager and a former employee led a ring including at least 43 others that stole prescription pads from Mirza's office, obtained fraudulent prescriptions, and distributed the medications as far as Miami and Boston.
The office manager, 36-year-old Jackie Leblanc of Satellite Beach, and the former employee, 38-year-old Margery Rebensky of West Melbourne, were charged with obtaining controlled substances with fraudulent prescriptions and conspiracy.
Investigators say nearly 20,000 pills worth more than $1 million were obtained fraudulently.
Mirza, however, is not believed to have known about his employees' distribution ring.
Also among those arrested are Leblanc's husband, Alan Leblanc, 41, a maintenance supervisor at an apartment complex, and Rebensky's father, Cecil R. Platt, 63, of West Melbourne.
Platt's father, Cecil E. Platt, helped found West Melbourne in 1959 and was elected one of its first city councilmen.
This is not Platt's first run-in with the law. In 1997, he was charged with selling 70 pounds of marijuana to undercover agents and planning to sell a ton more.
Platt was sentenced to two years of probation and community control in the case. Then in the early 1980s, he served time in a federal prison on a cocaine trafficking conviction.
Pasko said Thursday that additional arrests could be made.
Meanwhile, Mirza was released from the Brevard County Detention Center in Sharpes late Wednesday after posting $2,500 bond. His attorney, Richard Canina, refused to comment on the case Thursday.
Mirza was scheduled to appear in court again Aug. 29. Those arrested in connection with the raid:
Patrick E. Arnold, 29, of Palm Bay
Daniel J. Bozza, 46, of Melbourne
Brenda Clayton, 52, of Melbourne
Cassandra R. Daughtry, 30, of Melbourne
Timothy E. Henry, 34, of Palm Bay
Terri L. Hughes 41, of Cape Canaveral
Erik R. Kujala, 32, of Melbourne
Alan Leblanc, 41, of Satellite Beach
Jacqueline Leblanc, 36, of Satellite Beach
Leo A. Lescarbeau, 35, of Melbourne
Brandon W. Leopold, 24, of Melbourne
James W. Matthews, 58, of Mims
Timothy P. McMahon, 35, of Rockledge
John Charles Miller, 38, of Melbourne
Sarfraz A. Mirza, 60, of Melbourne Beach
Thomas H. Montana, 26, of Melbourne
Jennifer Joan Stewart, 36, of Melbourne
Christina M. Palvernto, of 34, Melbourne
Cecil R. Platt, 63, of West Melbourne
Margery Lee Rebensky, 38, of West Melbourne
Angela M. Satterfield, 26, of Palm Bay
Andy W. Smart, 30, of DeLand
Kelly S. Stevens, 32, of Melbourne
Sherry A. Werner, 39, of Melbourne
Melbourne doctor, 45 others charged for trafficking in painkiller
TALLAHASSEE · Florida agents said Tuesday they have arrested a Melbourne doctor and his assistant and issued 44 other arrest warrants in connection with a wide-scale investigation into the trafficking of the painkiller OxyContin and other drugs.
The announcement brought renewed calls for a law to help doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement authorities identify drug addicts and their suppliers. Senior officials in Gov. Jeb Bush's administration want legislators to pass a bill creating a database tracking the millions of prescription narcotics that pharmacists across Florida dispense.
The push for the law followed news the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, state health and local authorities have been investigating for more than a year the "We Really Care" pain clinic in Melbourne.
Dr. Sarfraz A. Mirza and an office assistant, Jackie Leblanc, were arrested and were being held at the Brevard County Jail.
Mirza was charged with 11 counts of trafficking in OxyContin and delivery or sale of other controlled substances. Leblanc was charged with obtaining OxyContin, prescription fraud and conspiracy.
FDLE Interim Commissioner Daryl McLaughlin said drug addicts were able to get pills through the clinic by using fraudulent prescriptions. He and other state officials, including drug control director Jim McDonough, pledged to revive a fight to get a statewide computer database to track prescriptions for narcotic painkillers and other controlled drugs.
"Not only would it make us more efficient and more effective, but it would send a clear message to folks across the state who ... prey on unsuspecting, and in some cases, innocent individuals," McLaughlin said. "In this day of automation, there is no excuse for not having this kind of system in place."
The goal of the computerized system, McDonough said, would be to cut down on so-called "doctor shopping," in which patients visit several physicians to obtain drugs, either to feed their addiction or to sell on the street.
The monitoring system would be capable of retrieving a patient's drug history while the patient is still in the examining room, or waiting at the pharmacy. Eighteen other states have put some prescription monitoring system in place, but most take significant time, some taking several weeks, before a doctor or pharmacist can learn of a patient's drug use history.
A bill that would have created an electronic prescription data bank in Florida has been debated for more than three years in the Legislature.
Mark Hollis can be reached at [email protected] or 850-224-6214.