A doctor accused of overprescribing pain medication at her Tampa clinic has died, her attorney said.
Dr. Kimberly Daffern, who would have been 45 next month, died Saturday in Volusia County, where she was still practicing medicine, said attorney Chip Purcell. He did not speculate on the cause of death, saying he was awaiting results from the autopsy.
"It was not suspicious," Purcell said. "There's no indication one way or another that it's drug-related." The Volusia County medical examiner did not return calls for comment.
Daffern was arrested in December 2010 along with other employees of First Medical Group, 2314 N Dale Mabry Highway. She faced charges of racketeering, trafficking in a controlled substance and conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance.
"She always vehemently asserted her innocence in this case," Purcell said.
Daffern is the second Tampa Bay area physician accused of drug trafficking to die recently. Dr. Blake D. Barton, 50, who ran a practice in St. Pete Beach, was found dead of an apparent overdose at his Tampa home June 29.
Daffern, whose maiden name was Whittington, earned bachelor's degrees at West Point and Ohio State University. In 1998, she graduated with a medical degree from Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, a military school in Maryland, state records show.
In the Army she interned at Fort Gordon in Georgia and completed a residency in 2002 at Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington.
Four years later, Daffern and her husband bought a home in Valrico. She completed a residency in occupational medicine at the University of South Florida and in spring 2010 went to First Medical Group, a little clinic in a strip mall near Raymond James Stadium.
In July 2010, police raided the clinic and its employees became the target of a pill mill investigation. According to the arrest warrant affidavit, of 5,790 patients who saw Daffern, 99 percent left with prescriptions for oxycodone. During a three-month period of the investigation, Daffern authorized a little more than 1 million oxycodone pills, police said.
Purcell said Daffern passed a federal lie detector test.
"I'm very sad," he said. "She was not guilty. She passed the FBI polygraph. They prosecuted anyway."
Emily Nipps can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8452.