Winter Park pain clinic raided, 5 arrested for trafficking

By Amanda McKenzie, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 04, 2015, 4:01 PM

Several agencies raided an Orange County pain clinic Wednesday and arrested five people based on evidence that authorities said suggests the business was operating as an illegal pill mill.

Throughout the day multiple agencies seized evidence at the Winter Park Pain and Wellness Clinic on Granada Drive, off Fairbanks near I-4 and the home of the clinic’s owner on Fairway Drive, off State Road 436.

For the past six years, nearby businesses reported suspicious activity surrounding the pain clinic, alleging that the clinic was dispensing highly addictive and lethal pain killers without proper prescriptions.

Wednesday morning it was business as usual with about 15 patients waiting inside, when the clinic was raided.

Investigators said it was a common sight to see dozens of people lined up outside, just waiting to be seen by Dr. Roland Brutus.

“It was clear that this was a pill mill,” said Don VanDingenen, one of the nearby business neighbors who reported the pill mill.

It cost $250 just to walk in the door, but patients also had to pass a urine test proving they were already taking pain killers or heroin.

“There was an armed guard at the front door every day that they were open,” Larry Zweig, director of the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation said. “Screening the patients to make sure they understood the rules.”

Agents raided the clinic, taking bags of evidence and thousands of dollars in cash.

Dr. Brutus and his staff members were taken away in handcuffs.

“I have been waiting for this day for six years,” VanDingenen said.

Dr. Brutus, along with the owner, Eric Emerson, and three staff members are charged with trafficking, racketeering and conspiracy.

“They all knew what was going on and they were making hundreds of thousands of dollars on distributing hundreds of thousands of pain pills for the last few years,” Zweig said.

Drugs like hydrocodone, OxyContin, morphine, and Valium were all routinely prescribed. The cash-only clinic had patients from all over the state.

Owner Eric Emerson, was taken into custody before the raid. His home was also part of the search. Agents seized thousands of dollars in cash and at least four luxury cars.

This is still an ongoing investigation involving MBI, the State Department of Health and Homeland Security.

Interestingly, no pills have been recovered so far. Investigators said this was just the location where the prescriptions for pain killers were written, not dispensed.

The MBI said the investigation was ongoing, and asked anyone with information related to the Winter Park Pain and Wellness Center to call (407) 836-9701.

4 Responses

  1. Not sure if anyone caught this but what the fudge was Dept of Homeland Security doing investigating a pain management clinic anyway?

    Upon looking at their official website I failed to see this as in their stated mission-the information below taken from:
    http://www.dhs.gov/our-mission

    There are five homeland security missions:

    Prevent terrorism and enhancing security;
    Secure and manage our borders;
    Enforce and administer our immigration laws;
    Safeguard and secure cyberspace;
    Ensure resilience to disasters;

    Talk about taking this thing a little too far!

    And they are crying about not having enough funding [they needed emergency funding this week]. Maybe if they stuck to doing THEIR JOB and not throwing their weight around in matters that dont concern them they wouldn’t be short of funds. Ridiculous.

    Coonhound

  2. Unbelievable.! How could those horrible law enforcement lackeys do such a thing. I’m certain that all these people were just there to get their legitimate, life sustaining medicine for their chronic pain conditions. Poor souls. and this saint of a doctor who was only interested in helping people lead normal lives will never be able to help like this again. ya.. right. AND YOU WONDER WHY PHARMACIES ARE UNCOMFORTABLE?

    • Um some of us are not so lucky to have a husband or wife to help us. It takes years of waiting to get on disability what are people supposed to do when,they have no,insurance and dont make enough to go to a regular pain practice ???tell me i dlove to know i had to suooort my child ALONE i had A government job where i didnt get benefits as i wasnt considered a real,employee until my turn on seniority came so yeah after spending 125 a month at my primary care,dr spending tons on,physical therapy , paying cash,for orthopedics surgeons my dr finally referred me,to a pain,group who wanted$500 for the first visit sorry thats not possible being a single,parent who is forced to work then lost everything the pain got so bad n pharmacists started refusing my prescriptions n caused me to lose my job and yeah i had to go to a similar place like this pill mills give drugs out what is thisplace doing wrong?the place i went to did drug tests monthly n i saw them turn away plenty of ppl as well.

  3. If their not handing out meds how is it a pill mill?i used to have to go to a cash pain clinic before i got on disability and medicare as i couldnt afford a regular pain doctor,what is the issue? This is seriously ridiculous im so sick of hearing about this bs already.

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