Panama City Physician and
DEC 14 -- Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent In Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Miami Field Division, Gregory R. Miller, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, Charlie Crist, Florida Attorney General, Tom Gallagher, Florida Chief Financial Officer, Michael J. Folmar, Special Agent In Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation - Jacksonville Division; Irene Hernandez, Assistant Director, National Drug Intelligence Center Document Exploitation Division, Robert E. Harris, Special Agent In Charge, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Gerald M. Bailey, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Mark Thomas, Director, Florida Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Frank McKeithen, Bay County Sheriff, and M. Roney Francois, M.D., Secretary, Florida Department of Health, announced that a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging a Panama City physician and the office manager of his medical practice with conspiracy to commit fraud, health care fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and unlawful dispensing of controlled substances.
In a 124 count Indictment, the federal grand jury in Tallahassee charged Dr. John Q. Durfey and Rhonda K. Fenwick with: 1) conspiracy to commit health care and mail fraud; 2) thirty-four counts of health care fraud; 3) ten counts of mail fraud; 4) conspiracy to distribute controlled substances; 5) two counts of dispensing controlled substances, including oxycodone, fentanyl, and methadone, that resulted in the deaths of two persons and 6) seventy-six counts of dispensing controlled substances including oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl, methadone, hydromorphone, hydrocodone, alprazolam, zolpidem, clonazepam and dronobinol.
The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of property of the defendants, including $150,000 from Durfey. Durfey was arrested by federal and state agents in Cincinnati, Ohio, on a federal warrant based upon the charges of the indictment. Durfey recently closed his practice in Panama City and relocated to Cincinnati. Fenwick was arrested by federal and state agents in Panama City. on a federal warrant based upon the charges of the indictment. If convicted on Counts 92 and 111, the counts charging the distribution of oxycodone, fentanyl and methadone with death resulting from the use of those controlled substances, Durfey faces a mandatory minimum term of 20 years’ imprisonment, a maximum of life imprisonment, and a fine of $1,000,000, on each count. On the remaining counts, Durfey faces a maximum total term of imprisonment of 1,960 years imprisonment on the drug counts and total fines exceeding $82 million. Fenwick faces a total maximum term of 120 years’ imprisonment, and $2.5 million in fines.
This Indictment is the result of a joint Federal/State North Florida Health Care Fraud Task Force investigation that commenced two years ago.
Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration Miami Field Division, Mark R. Trouville stated, "a doctor who illegally prescribes narcotics is no different than a drug dealer selling from a street corner. DEA will continue to aggressively pursue those who abuse their authority to prescribe controlled substances.”
U. S. Attorney Miller commended the tireless efforts of investigators of the agencies involved in this complex investigation, and praised the cooperation of citizens and pharmacists who alerted investigators to excessive prescribing of highly addictive controlled substances by Durfey. Mr. Miller stated that, “the protection of citizens in the community from licensed doctors who dispense highly addictive controlled substances such as OxyContin outside the usual course of professional practice is a primary concern of health care matters. The North Florida Health Care Fraud Task Force will vigorously investigate and identify those medical practitioners who use their licenses to peddle controlled substances to abusers and addicts outside the course of standard medical practice. This conduct, along with the theft of public funds and fraud committed against the taxpayers and health care benefit programs remains a priority with the Department of Justice.”
"Prescription drug misuse and improper dispensing is taken very seriously," said FDLE Assistant Commissioner Ken Tucker. "This investigation reflects the longstanding commitment in place in our state to stop this kind of abuse and those who perpetrate it," said Tucker.