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By A.B. Sidibe
Special to the Citizen
CRYSTAL RIVER — A doctor with a dubious history around pain clinics was arrested and charged in a morning multi-agency raid on Feb. 7 at his office for allegedly prescribing 1,567,988 pills in the past 12 months, according to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office.
Of that number, 643,000 were doses of oxycodone, said John Bergen, lead detective.
The street value of the pills is estimated to be $12 million. Other prescriptions included doses of Xanax, Soma, Methadone, Oxycontin and other schedule II and III substances.
Officials from the state Department of Health also suspended the doctor’s license and ordered him to cease and desist in the operation of the illegal clinic. The business is not a registered pain clinic in the state, according to investigators.
It is the biggest pain clinic shutdown in the history of Citrus County, according to authorities.
“This is putting a huge dent in the pill problem in Central Florida,” Bergen said.
Daniel McIntire 57, of 8021 N. Elbow Lane, St. Petersburg, is facing two counts of trafficking in oxycodone. His bond is $200,000.
Agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement also were on hand for the bust.
In a parallel operation, Hernando County deputies were shutting down a similar office in that county.
And, this isn’t the first time McIntire has been in trouble with the law. He was arrested in December 2011 in connection with another raid at the Harbour Medical Group in Lutz.
According to Bergen, McIntire operated the office with another doctor, Dennis Varel, who has since died, on a cash-only basis and “did not follow lawful procedures.” Varel was found dead Jan. 10 of an apparent drug overdose. Because McIntire has prior felony charges he could not legally work in a registered clinic.
The office was called Central Pain Clinic, but the signage was vague with Central Clinic more prominently displayed.
“There was little to no examination of patients” before prescriptions were handed out, said Bergen.
The patients came from as far away as Colorado and New Jersey and other Florida counties to get prescriptions.
McIntire reportedly wrote as many as 172 prescriptions in a 5-hour time frame — that’s an average of 34 prescriptions per hour.
Bergen said believes after individuals received their prescriptions, they routinely headed out of county to get them filled in pharmacies elsewhere. Under recent Florida law, pain clinics are forbidden to dispense pills.
As agents descended on the office at 700 S.E. 5th Terrace, one of the doctors at a neighboring office came out to applaud authorities, including Sheriff Jeff Dawsy.
“We have a pediatric office here and we try to keep things professional, but it was hard to do with people going and coming and milling around all day, every day,” said Dr. Marcy Howard. “It is great that they are finally shutting it down.”
Dawsy said the investigation took a year, essentially about the same time McIntire opened the illegal clinic.
“This is all in line with our Intelligence-Led Policing. Some good people shared information with us and we targeted him with the assistance of FDLE,” Dawsy said.
Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, the State Attorney’s Office, Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and the Pinellas County Pill Diversion Task Force all assisted in the case.
“This is also a message sent to citizens and the bad people not to come here. Keep it out of our county,” Dawsy said.
“This is the largest operation we’ve ever shut down in Citrus County,” Dawsy concluded. “I sincerely want to thank Detective Bergen and everyone who had a part in this operation. We appreciate the hard work of all of the agencies involved.”
Contact Chronicle reporter A.B. Sidibe at 352-564-2925 or at email@example.com.