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Doctor, employees from Tampa-St. Petersburg pain clinic face drug charges

TAMPA — A local pain clinic physician and three employees were arrested Monday and charged with conspiracy and illegal distribution of prescription pain pills, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Dr. Jeffrey Friedlander, 50, was the licensed physician at Neurology & Pain Center, which operated clinics in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Sarasota, Orlando and Jacksonville. Authorities say Friedlander and his staff illegally distributed the prescription painkillers oxycodone, hydrocodone, alprazolam and morphine.

Also arrested were Troy Wubbena, 43, of Tampa, a physician assistant; Carl Ehresman, 42, of St. Petersburg, an emergency medical technician; and Sarah Ehresman, 43, of St. Petersburg, listed only as an employee of the clinic.

The four are charged with conspiracy to illegally distribute and dispense the painkillers and 12 counts of distributing and dispensing a controlled substance without a valid medical purpose and outside the course of professional practice.

Each defendant faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.

According to court records, Friedlander and his employees distributed the drugs to patients knowing the patients were addicted to them. Authorities also said the clinic employees dispensed drugs by using presigned, blank prescription forms, allowing unauthorized and unsupervised persons to fill in the drug named and dosage to be prescribed.

Kevin Graham can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or kgraham@sptimes.com.

Doctor, employees from Tampa-St. Petersburg pain clinic face drug charges 04/06/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 6, 2009 11:01pm]
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