TAMPA — A federal judge sentenced a Tampa doctor to more than four years in prison Thursday for his role in an Internet pharmacy that illegally distributed more than 50 million hydrocodone pills across the country.
Juan A. Ibanez, 60, was sentenced after pleading guilty to multiple drug charges involving the narcotic painkiller, which is addictive and can lead to fatal overdose if used outside of a doctor's watch.
Ibanez — who at one time practiced in Tampa, Haines City and Winter Haven — was involved in a "criminal organization" that grossed more than $85 million from 2003 to 2007 by distributing the pills, according to the plea agreement.
The organization provided the pills to customers throughout the nation who placed orders over the Internet, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa.
Customers only had to fill out a brief online questionnaire, select a dosage and occasionally submit medical records. At no time did they see a doctor.
As part of the enterprise, Ibanez allowed his name and Drug Enforcement Administration registration number to be used. He also recruited other doctors in Florida and five other states to allow their signatures and registration numbers to be used. Orders also were filled with the name and numbers of doctors who had declined to be employed by the organization.
The plea agreement states that Ibanez's organization recruited and paid multiple independent pharmacies across the country — including several in the Tampa Bay area — to fill and ship orders.