Tarpon Springs clinic director extorted patients for sexual favors, police say

Christopher Ferguson, 52, told patients they tested positive for drugs and asked for sexual favors to change the results.
Clinic director Christopher Ferguson, 52, faces one count of extortion for allegedly threatening a woman with positive drug-test results unless she agreed to sex, Tarpon Springs police said.
Clinic director Christopher Ferguson, 52, faces one count of extortion for allegedly threatening a woman with positive drug-test results unless she agreed to sex, Tarpon Springs police said. [ Pinellas County Sheriff's Office ]
Published March 1, 2022|Updated March 2, 2022

TARPON SPRINGS — The director of a pain management clinic in Tarpon Springs threatened to cut off a patient’s prescriptions unless she agreed to have sex with him, police said.

Two other women have lodged similar complaints against Christopher Ferguson, 52, with the Phoenix Medical Management Care Centers, according to a search warrant affidavit. Records police obtained from the clinic show information about certain female patients was highlighted, suggesting Ferguson had identified a pool of potential victims, according to the affidavit.

“Fine, you’re now kicked out and I’m going to put it on your records,” Ferguson told one woman who refused his advances, according to the affidavit.

Ferguson, who served prison time earlier for selling drugs while working at a pain management clinic, was arrested Jan. 12 on one count of extortion. He was released the next day on $10,000 bail.

The Times is not naming the women because of the nature of the allegations.

Ferguson threatened to report that the women had tested positive for use of dangerous drugs such as opioids and cocaine even when they hadn’t, the affidavit said. This gave him leverage because the report would be filed with authorities and they would be dropped as patients of the clinic.

One of the women went to police after Ferguson had called her repeatedly, saying there were problems in her drug test and asking her to come to the clinic for sex after hours, the affidavit said.

Police arranged a controlled phone call that day, Jan. 12, and Ferguson asked the caller for sex, and when she arrived at the clinic they would discuss her drug test results further. During the phone call, Ferguson said he had set up the clinic’s massage room and they agreed she would visit.

Instead, Tarpon Springs police showed up at the clinic, at 1779 S Pinellas Ave., Suite 300, and found Ferguson waiting for the woman outside, holding her patient paperwork in his hands, the affidavit said.

The three women who made complaints to police told similar stories, the affidavit said. Ferguson called and texted repeatedly at least two of the women with his extortion attempts. All three women told police they did not use the dangerous drugs he claimed the testing had detected.

Prosecutors would have a hard time proving extortion because Ferguson is not a physician and had no legal standing to make the threats attributed to him, said his attorney, John Trevena. The State Attorney’s Office has not filed formal charges against Ferguson, Trevena added.

Ferguson told police he does clerical work at the clinic and has “medical assistant type” responsibilities, including patient drug screenings and electrocardiogram tests. He has no medical certifications or licensing, he told police.

Calls to Phoenix Medical Management Care Centers and to the clinic’s attorney were not returned.

A woman Ferguson identified to police as his wife, Patricia J. Ferguson, is listed as president of the clinic in state business filings. Ferguson had been listed as director of the clinic but his name does not appear on an annual report filed with the state Jan. 18.

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Patricia Ferguson did not answer requests for comment left at numbers and emails listed for her.

Ferguson served three years in prison for selling drugs to an undercover police officer in 2007 while he was working as director at a pain management clinic in an office plaza in the 1900 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Tampa.

Ferguson was arrested then on two felony counts of drug trafficking after delivering over 4 grams of oxycodone to the officer, state records show.