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St. Petersburg doctor accused of trying to smuggle drugs onto plane

TAMPA — An emergency room doctor is facing charges that he tried to smuggle drugs onto a plane headed to Salt Lake City last week, authorities said.

Police at Tampa International Airport arrested Dr. Abbas Edward Sina, 51, of St. Pete Beach on Feb. 4 on charges of heroin possession with intent to sell, trafficking in illegal drugs, possessing a controlled substance and possessing drug paraphernalia.

On that morning, Transportation Security Administration screeners noticed Sina "acting extremely anxious and nervous," according to an incident report.

A search of Sina's carry-on bag revealed a small, white container with various pills, later identified as 37 10-mg doses of methadone and three 2-mg doses of Xanax.

Sina told screeners he was a doctor at Palms of Pasadena Hospital in St. Petersburg, the report said. He told police he took two Vicodin before coming to the airport, and had methadone and other pain pills in his bag that belonged to his wife. "Sina admitted he did not have a prescription for any of the medication found in his bag," a detective wrote in the report.

Officials took Sina into custody and found more drugs and paraphernalia on him: a small bag containing 34 individual packets of heroin in his right front pants pocket and 12 syringes in a pair of snow boots in his checked luggage.

He was booked into a Hillsborough County jail. Records show he was released on a surety bond Monday night.

According to a newspaper wedding announcement, Sina has been a doctor at Palms of Pasadena since at least 1999. Officials there could not be reached for comment Thursday. His medical license is currently clear and active, according to the Florida Department of Health's website.

Sina faced other drug charges eight years ago. Records show Tampa police arrested him on charges of possessing heroin and drug equipment and driving under the influence in February 2003. He was not prosecuted.

In 2006, the state Board of Medicine formally disciplined Sina after ruling he had overprescribed pain pills for a 26-year-old woman with whom he was romantically involved. According to an administrative complaint, the woman sustained a neck injury in 1998. She re-injured her neck in 2004 and was treated by Sina. Over the next several months, the complaint said, he prescribed increasing dosages of OxyContin, a drug noted for its high potential of abuse. He did not, however, physically examine the woman, order diagnostic or lab tests, diagnose a medical condition or keep a medical record to justify his course of treatment, the complaint said.

St. Petersburg doctor accused of trying to smuggle drugs onto plane 02/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 10, 2011 10:57pm]
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