Another arrest in Jacksonville prescription drug ring run from unsuspecting doctor's office

November 5, 2012

A receptionist and office manager for a Jacksonville foot doctor are accused of running a massive prescription drug ring and a sixth woman was arrested last week in connection with the scheme. Kathleen Smith was arrested last week on Duval County drug trafficking charges after admitting she filled her name and her two sons' names on prescriptions obtained from the office of Dr. Earl Horowitz in Riverside, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police said they do not believe Horowitz was involved at all and he told officers that he never prescribes hydrocodone and rarely prescribes any controlled substances, but recognized the names of people filling the prescriptions as friends and family of his staff, the newspaper reported. The prescriptions were written in his name, the newspaper reported.

The alleged masterminds of the ring are receptionist Tracie Hazel and office manager Dana Miller, who are both in jail with bail set upwards of $1 million. Hazel is facing 18 Jacksonville criminal charges, including 15 counts of trafficking in more than 30 kilograms of a controlled substance. She faces up to 30 years in prison on each of those 15 counts, which are first-degree felonies. Miller's charges are mostly for trafficking in between 4 and 30 grams of hydrocodone, which are also first-degree felonies. Both Hazel, 45, and Miller, 42, could easily spend the rest of their lives in prison.

The state of Florida has put an emphasis on prescription drug sales over the past few years, in the wake of the state's unofficial designation as the nation's Pill Mill capital. Authorities have shut down pain clinics that provided easy access to the drugs and pharmacies are on the lookout for what would appear to be suspicious prescriptions - particularly large numbers from one doctor or to a specific person from multiple doctors. The state has created databases to help pharmacists track prescriptions and those records are what led police to this case, the newspaper reported. Not only is the radar up, the penalties for trafficking in prescription drugs are overwhelmingly severe in Florida. To face the same charge and penalty Miller is facing for having more than four grams or hydrocodone, a person would have to have more than 25 pounds of marijuana. One other woman was arrested last month on similar Jacksonville trafficking charges and two more with obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Prescription drugs charges are extremely serious, despite the fact in many cases defendants tell our Jacksonville drug crimes attorney they only had "a couple of pills." A couple of pills can have serious consequences, and our Jacksonville Pill Attorney is experienced in these cases to work to make the best of a case where the law is stacked against you or your loved one.

If you or a loved one needs a drug crimes attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Jacksonville Drug Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.