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Charges dropped against doctor accused of drug violations

TAMPA — Police say they found syringes and empty boxes of Demerol in the trash outside the Bayshore Beautiful home. Inside, they found several powerful and addictive medications — none in the residents' names.

They booked a doctor and her boyfriend on drug charges.

Six months later, prosecutors say they don't have enough evidence to proceed. Doctors are allowed to hold on to samples and store drugs in their offices, said Assistant State Attorney Darrell Dirks.

So they dropped the charges against Dr. Christina Paylan and her boyfriend, Joseph E. Abdo.

Though Dirks said it's suspicious that containers of hydrocodone, Demerol, Valium and Xanax — some opened or empty — were found in her home, not office, the doctor had an explanation.

Paylan said she had accidentally taken the medications home, he said.

"An explanation like that is more difficult to confront with a doctor than a regular person," he said.

The move comes as the Tampa cosmetic physician fights to get her medical license reactivated and prosecutors try to pull together a second case against her. In that one, Paylan is accused of using a patient's identification to get Demerol for herself.

In October, authorities charged Paylan with obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, as well as fraudulent use of personal information.

They said that on July 1 Paylan took a Demerol prescription she had written for a patient to the Habana Hospital Pharmacy.

At the pharmacy, Paylan showed a copy of the patient's insurance card and driver's license, an arrest affidavit states.

The patient told police she didn't need Demerol and didn't know why the prescription was in her name, according to the affidavit. She said she never gave Paylan permission to use her name in that manner.

Police are investigating a similar allegation involving a second patient.

Meanwhile, Paylan is fighting to get her medical license reactivated. In August, state officials suspended her license in an emergency order. To do so, they must believe a doctor poses an immediate threat to the public.

The Department of Health listed their evidence in a 17-page administrative complaint, which alleges that Paylan used a patient's name to obtain Demerol. It also states that when police searched Paylan's home they found bloodstains in the carpet and used syringes scattered through the house.

State licensing officials tried to evaluate Paylan, but she didn't cooperate, according to the complaint. She finally saw a doctor in Gainesville and acknowledged she had tested positive for Demerol, but she said a physician had prescribed it.

She wouldn't allow the doctor to contact the prescribing physician, the complaint says.

In a written response filed with the state's Division of Administrative Hearings, Paylan's attorney wrote that she denies all the allegations and therefore the state should not discipline her.

The attorney doesn't list any evidence. That will likely come out in the Jan. 25 administrative trial, as Paylan disputes the state's complaint.

Times staff writer Stephanie Bolling contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

Charges dropped against doctor accused of drug violations 12/30/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 30, 2011 10:05pm]
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