Agents and Governor Accuse, D.C., M.D. of Running a Pill Mill



fdadrugsDAYTONA BEACH — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, assisted by the FBI, seized records today from a clinic in North Ridgewood Avenue and others in South Florida linked to a doctor under fire for the way he prescribes medications, officials said.

FBI agents worked all day at Wagner Chiropractic Clinic at 542 N. Ridgewood. The clinic is owned in partnership by several doctors including Joseph Wagner, the father of Volusia County Councilman Josh Wagner, an attorney.

Other search warrants were also served in multiple locations across the state as investigators looked for any records that would link the targets of the searches to West Palm Beach-based Dr. John P. Christensen, according to the FDLE.

The Florida Department of Health ordered an emergency suspension of Christensen’s medical and chiropractic licenses today.

“This emergency suspension order sends a strong message to Floridians that we’re serious about cracking down on pill mills and the illegal distribution of prescription drugs that is killing our friends and family members,” said Gov. Rick Scott. ” It also sends a strong message to the pill mill operators that Florida will not tolerate this type of activity. Through our resources with the Department of Health and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, we will find you and we will shut you down.”

According to the Emergency Suspension Order of Christensen, investigators say Joseph and John Wagner were in business with Christensen and the doctor allowed his licensing privileges to be used for drugs — including hydrocodone, Xanax and Soma — to be prescribed to the patients of Joseph Wagner without Christensen ever evaluating or seeing the patients. Joseph Wagner also conducted these activities in the South Florida offices, the order said.

The Department of Health also claims in its report Christensen defrauded insurance companies by submitting false paperwork.

FDLE spokeswoman Heather Smith said agents belonging to the South Florida Drug Enforcement Task Force would be at multiple locations serving search warrants at businesses “associated with Dr. Christensen and his practice.”

Smith said no one has been arrested or charged and that the search warrants were served today to obtain records only.

City records show the business license of Wagner Chiropractic is currently in the names of three men: Albert Albatrosov of Hawaii, John Wagner — the county councilman’s brother who lives in Port Orange — and Christensen.

Councilman Josh Wagner has not commented on raids.

Joseph Wagner, a chiropractic physician and licensed acupuncturist, is the owner of the clinic property, according to Volusia County Property Appraiser’s records.

Christensen was the target of a 2010 investigation into the overdose death of a 21-year-old patient who had visited his West Palm Beach office. The state Department of Health officials recommended he be disciplined by the Board of Medicine for prescribing “excessive and/or inappropriate quantities of methadone, and/or oxycodone, and/or alprazolam,” according to state records.

But state records also show that in June an administrative law judge sided with Christensen, saying the state failed to prove the physician prescribed excessive amounts of drugs, or that he committed medical malpractice. The judge recommended that the Board of Medicine enter a final order dismissing the complaint against Christensen.

Albatrosov lists the Daytona Beach clinic as the location of his primary practice with the Health Department, which also indicates he holds medical licenses to practice in Georgia and Hawaii.

Joseph Wagner answered his door this afternoon at his Wilbur-by-the-Sea home, but closed the door before he could be asked any questions.

John Wagner, whose father is Joseph Wagner, was leaving a chiropractic clinic he owns on Mason Avenue today. He said he doesn’t speak to his father and had no idea about the search at the Ridgewood clinic.

A handwritten sign was taped to a window at John Wagner’s office. It said “closed Thursday.”

Dressed in board shorts and no shirt, John Wagner said he was going surfing.


Source:  The Daytona Beach News-Journal

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