Even eminent Surgeons are not immune to the lure of drugs nor to drug’s destructive power. Yet America’s war on drugs and harsh mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws have ruined many more lives than have the drugs themselves.

The Tampa Bay Surgeon, Dr. Carpenter, was arrested by Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputies for multiple counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. And as absurd as this sounds under the prevailing Florida law the Doctor is fortunate in how the offense was charged. 

 van Gogh - Portrait of Doctor Gachet who would have been arrested in Tampa Bay Florida for Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud if he had prescription pills.
Van Gogh, Prescription Fraud Doctor

In many cases involving Prescription Fraud the total number of pills sheer weight is added together. In this case there were “at least 500 valium pills” according to deputies. Based on weight even as few as thirty pills is often sufficient to trigger a Drug Trafficking charge with a minimum mandatory sentence in Tampa Bay, Florida. 

It would be interesting to know the criterial, if any, which law enforcement officers use to determine when it’s appropriate to file Drug Trafficking charges. Shouldn’t there be written law enforcement policy as to what factors officers should take into account in how to charge or not charge Drug Trafficking cases? At least Tampa Bay Judges have some understanding that drug treatment at the Pinellas County Drug Court is a better answer than forcing addicts to spend useless prison time.

Needless to say, the prosecutors will use the threat of a Trafficking charge to leverage a forced plea of guilty. It’s as easy as amending the Information, which is the formal charging document filed by prosecutors, to include a Drug Trafficking charge should the Doctor attempt to fight the charges. No wonder a recent study established to the shame of the American Criminal Judicial System that over 96% of those charged with a crime plead guilty in this country.

Doctor Carpenter’s arrest for valium prescription fraud came about when he allegedly passed prescriptions for himself using the name and the DEA number of another doctor apparently without that Doctor’s permission according to press accounts:

Pinellas County Sheriff’s investigators received information that Dr. Richard Carpenter had been calling in prescriptions for Valium (Diazepam) for himself since October 2012. 

Authorities say Carpenter used the name of a doctor he knew and his DEA number to get the prescriptions illegally using his health care insurance to pay the cost of the prescription.
Investigators say Carpenter obtained at least 500 Valium 5mg pills.

Somehow that using of the insurance really bothers me, but a juror might see things differently. If the Surgeon fights this case all the way to a jury trial, the insurance might just be what sets him free. After all Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorneys could successfully argue that the Surgeon wouldn’t involve the insurance company unless he thought the prescriptions were valid.


A new study by the Pew Public Safety Performance Project finds that soaring prison budgets do not provide the best path to public safety. The study singles out Florida as having wasted vast sums of money destroying lives with longer prison terms than were necessary for deterrence in averting future crime. Your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer wonders who did benefit from the enormous amount of prison overbuilding in Florida, which came at the expense of Florida funding for education, health and safety. 
The tragedy detailed in this report is much more than merely lost money. It represents thousands of lost lives in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Largo and Tampa Bay especially for those unfortunates incarcerated for long prison terms or mandatory minimum prison sentences for nonviolent crimes such as fraudforged hydrocodone or oxycodone prescriptionspossession of marijuanaconspiracy and trafficking in drugs or  possession of cocaine
The report states as follows:

The nonviolent drug users in Tampa, Petersburg, Largo & Clearwater, Florida are subjected to mandatory minimum sentences
Cezanne, The Opium Smoker

…extended prison sentences came at a price: prisoners released from incarceration in 2009 cost states $23,300 per offender–or a total of over $10 billion nationwide. More than half of that amount was for non-violent offenders.

Drug offenders served 36 percent longer in 2009 than those released in 1990, while violent offenders served 37 percent longer. Time served for inmates convicted of property crimes increased by 24 percent. 
Almost all states increased length of stay over the last two decades, though that varied widely from state to state.  In Florida, for example, where time served rose most rapidly, prison terms grew by 166 percent and cost an extra $1.4 billion in 2009.
A companion analysis Pew conducted in partnership with external researchers found that many non-violent offenders in Florida, Maryland and Michigan could have served significantly shorter prison terms with little or no public safety consequences.


Four international pharmaceutical companies are developing drugs that will for the first time make the most addictive ingredient in the drug hydrocodone available in a pure form, making the risk of addiction to Tampa & Pinellas Floridians that much greater, according to a recent article in the British press, which also states that the companies plan to make a pain killer called Zohydro which will be ten times stronger than vicodin. Will there now be ten times more arrests in Clearwater, St. Petersburg & Tampa that a Pinellas Drug Attorney will need to clean up in the arbitrary hope that law enforcement doesn’t destroy more lives than the drugs?
Here’s an excerpt from the British News Article:

Between 2003 and 2007 in the state of Florida alone, hydrocodone caused 910 deaths and contributed to 1,803 others…….Andrew Kolodny, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing told CBS: ‘You’ve got a person on your product for life, and a doctor’s got a patient who’s never going to miss an appointment, because if they did and they didn’t get their prescription, they would feel very sick…it’s a terrific business model…”
Pinellas County has an effective drug court discussed in earlier blog entries with other solutions or decriminalization. The Courts are already overwhelmed with Defendants who are addicted because of misuse and abuse of the drugs being shoveled in their direction by the pharmeceutical companies. 

Haven’t the drugs already available to Floridians destroyed enough lives? The companies insist that the patients can be monitored more closely in the future to avoid drug addiction. How? Look at the recent efforts by Floridian law enforcement to clamp down on prescription fraud and Pinellas Pain Doctors who give inappropriate prescriptions even at current lower levels of drug effectiveness. 
Ever harsher drug laws are not the answer. Nor is it the answer for companies to knowingly make these drugs ever more addictive and available. The only priority of the pharmaceutical companies is to make more money.

A painting of a number of pleasantly satisfied Pharmaceutical Reps at a Tampa Bay Conference.

Rembrandt The Anatomy Lesson, 1662