A couple was arrested in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday with thousands of prescription pills from Florida.
The doctor for 98 of the prescriptions? Dr. Ronald J. Heromin of Tampa.
"Out of the 101 pill bottles, only three prescriptions were not from Dr. Heromin," said Steve Martin, chief deputy of the criminal division for the Franklin County, Ohio, Sheriff's Office.
The pills turned up after police arrested Alexes Akers, who had been wandering incoherently in a parking lot. After searching her, they discovered $117,469 in her book bag. Her husband, Christopher Akers, pulled up and said the money was his, police said.
When police searched his car, they found the pills, which included OxyContin, generic oxycodone, Xanax and Soma, a muscle relaxant. The drugs had come from 10 different pharmacies in Florida, police said.
Heromin, 55, worked at a pain clinic on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Tampa before authorities raided it in May. The clinic was notorious for packing in pain patients with lines out the door and a parking lot full of cars.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Heromin said the prescriptions that generated the pills found Monday were forgeries.
He said he did see the couple several times, once as recently as a week or two ago at the Miami office where he now works, the Hope for Life Wellness Center.
Christopher Akers, 25, had had surgery for a "crushing neck injury" he got in a car accident, Heromin said. Alexes Akers, 21, had "numerous herniations plus pathology," he said. He denied he gave them prescriptions for thousands of pills.
"It's not my scripts," he said. "I prescribed him three or four prescriptions."
Heromin said he knows there are forgeries of his prescriptions out there and he has reported them to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"In the meantime, my reputation is being destroyed, my license is being destroyed and I have to tolerate it," Heromin said. "My main concern is all the people on those streets who are getting drugs."
Martin of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office in Columbus said the Akers could get 25 years in prison if they are convicted of trafficking pills. The Sheriff's Office determined the cash in the book bag was proceeds from pills they'd already sold.
Martin said his agency is not pursuing Heromin.
"We don't have any jurisdiction over him," he said.
The Tampa Police Department acknowledged that Heromin was part of a clinic that was shut down on Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard in June. But they would not say whether they were investigating Heromin.
"That raid and that investigation were a small piece in a bigger investigation," said Andrea Davis, a Tampa police spokeswoman, "and we're aware of the shady pain clinics in Tampa."
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Times reporter Leonora LaPeter Anton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727-893-8640.