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Pasco deputies' drug schemes laid out in documents

TAMPA — When he wasn't enforcing the law, it appears Don Riggans went to great lengths to evade it.

In February, the Pasco County sheriff's deputy met a drug dealer in a Publix men's room to plan how to steal thousands from the illegal sale of prescription pills, according to documents released Monday.

Riggans patted down the man — who was in fact an informant — to be sure he wasn't wearing a hidden wire.

He "spoke in soft tones, discussing his work schedule," the affidavit says.

Outside, his wife and children waited in the family's Saturn.

Riggans, 34, was one of two Pasco deputies arrested — and fired — early Sunday on federal drug charges. Riggans is accused of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute the addictive painkiller hydrocodone.

Rodney Philon, a 38-year-old jail deputy, is charged with conspiracy to distribute steroids.

The two former deputies had positive personnel records in Pasco, where both men had worked for nearly a decade. They appeared in federal court Monday morning and were later released from Tampa's Orient Road Jail on bail.

Philon held Pasco SWAT deputies in an hours-long standoff Sunday morning at his Wesley Chapel home before surrendering. Prosecutors said Monday he had his stepdaughter answer the door when deputies knocked to tell them he was away fishing.

Riggans was arrested when he reported to work.

Also facing drug charges are Robert "Fat Bob" Caddick, 41, of Oviedo and Kevin Massimino, 32, of Tampa. Caddick is described as the chief financial officer of a Clark Avenue pharmacy called Medipharm, which was raided by federal agents in late 2006 and labeled a public health risk.

Caddick made and stole prescription narcotics including hydrocodone, Xanax and Vicodin, the affidavit says, then falsified the company's records to cover up the theft. Massimino put the pills in circulation, authorities said.

In March, according to court documents, Riggans, Massimino and a person who turned out to be a police informant worked up a plan to sell a load of pills to a drug dealer in Miami but rip off the payment by having Riggans conduct a bogus traffic stop.

Riggans, the affidavit shows, was nervous.

He wanted to know that the drug runner would have only cash, no weapons. He gave a narrow window of time in which he could do the traffic stop.

He worried about what he'd say when he radioed in about the stop, and if it might lead to him having to take a polygraph.

The deal went down last Tuesday, in a Winn-Dixie parking lot in the Moon Lake area of New Port Richey. Shortly afterward, according to court documents, Riggans, Massimino and the informant met at a nearby school and divided up the money. Riggans' take was $9,000.

Philon is accused of selling an informant 10 pink tablets of the steroid Dianabol from his own stash during a meeting in the parking lot of a State Road 54 Publix.

He is mentioned in Riggans' affidavit, discussing the ripoff with Massimino and an informant while the men worked out Feb. 13 at a Bally's gym in Tampa.

Philon, the affidavit says, also supplied Massimino with steroids.

Local law enforcement agents say black market sales of prescription drugs have surged in recent years.

A corrupt police officer looking to make money on the side 10 years ago may have tried to peddle cocaine or heroin. Today, prescription drugs are more lucrative.

A 120-pill bottle of 80-milligram oxycodone pills, for example, can sell for $10,000 on the street.

"You don't have to have the Colombian smuggler anymore. It's all homegrown stuff," said Capt. Michael Platt, commander of the Pinellas Sheriff's Office's narcotics unit. "I think it's very pervasive."

Local law enforcement officials say Internet pharmacies are tough to shut down because their operations are spread out in different states or jurisdictions. And if they are shut down, they may just pop up again under a different name.

According to the state Division of Corporations, at least four pharmacies have been registered by the same people behind Medipharm Rx, including Caddick.

Times staff writers Chris Tisch and Jodie Tillman and researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report.

Pasco deputies' drug schemes laid out in documents 03/17/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 19, 2008 10:09am]
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