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State won't retry Hillsborough doctor's drug trafficking case

Dr. John Mubang, center, accused of illegally prescribing pills, appears before Judge Ronald Ficarrotta to accept a deal to have charges dropped if he completes a pretrial intervention program.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

Dr. John Mubang, center, accused of illegally prescribing pills, appears before Judge Ronald Ficarrotta to accept a deal to have charges dropped if he completes a pretrial intervention program.

TAMPA — Dr. John Mubang's drug trafficking trial ended last month with a hung jury.

He won't face another.

On Wednesday, an assistant state attorney announced that the Seffner doctor whose prosecution was the first of its kind in Hillsborough County will enter a pretrial intervention program. If he completes it, the charge will be dropped.

Mubang, 59, admitted no guilt. His medical license remains intact. He declined comment after the brief hearing.

One of his attorneys called the outcome "a just and fair resolution."

"There's been far too much comparing of Dr. Mubang to these pill mills," defense attorney Arthur Eggers said. "He's as far from being a pill factory as you can get."

His case was unusual because doctors don't often get arrested for writing prescriptions.

Authorities accused him of prescribing three undercover detectives enough addictive medication to be considered drug trafficking.

The detectives, who visited his clinic several times over five months in 2008, testified that Mubang never examined them or inquired about their medical histories before writing prescriptions for painkillers.

Mubang said he diagnosed the patients with pain and anxiety after thorough examinations.

Unlike most trafficking trials, the state had to show the doctor acted in "bad faith," meaning he didn't give the proper level of care.

Jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict, resulting in a mistrial.

The jury foreman told the St. Petersburg Times that five of the six jurors felt the state had not proved Mubang's guilt.

A spokesman for the State Attorney's Office would not discuss the decision to forgo a retrial.

Mubang's attorneys said prosecutors took the reported jury vote into consideration.

Defense attorney Dale Sisco said his client will participate in the standard diversion program, which typically lasts nine to 18 months and includes community service hours.

Mubang continues to treat patients, as he has done throughout his legal ordeal. His medical license is clear and active, state records show.

Officials at University Community Hospital revoked Mubang's privileges there after learning of his 2008 arrest. But Mubang continues to list the hospital on his state Health Department license record that consumers can see online.

Hospital officials are going to press Mubang's office to stop doing so, spokesman Will Darnall said Wednesday.

According to medical examiner records, Mubang prescribed drugs to at least five people who died of accidental overdoses. Those deaths were not mentioned during his trial.

Sisco said he knows of no administrative action being pursued by the Florida Department of Health against his client.

"There's no sanction on his license," Sisco said.

Times staff writer Letitia Stein contributed to this report. Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3337.

State won't retry Hillsborough doctor's drug trafficking case 10/20/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 21, 2010 8:15am]

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