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Local doctor accused of illegally giving prescription drugs

TAMPA — Four people including a doctor from Palmetto were indicted and arrested this morning for reportedly illegally giving patients prescription drugs at clincs across Florida.

Dr. Jeffrey Friedlander, 50, of Palmetto, physician’s assistant Troy Wubbena, 43, of Tampa, emergency medical technician Carl Ehresman, 42, of St. Petersburg, and Sarah Ehresman, 43, of St. Petersburg, are charged with illegally conspiring to distribute and dispense oxycodone, morphine, hydrocodone and Aprazolam, according to a 14-page indictment filed in U.S. District Court’s Middle District of Florida.

A grand jury also charged them with 12 counts of distributing and dispensing controlled substances without a valid medical purpose and outside the course of professional practice.

Each defendant faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted of the charges, according to U.S. District Steve Cole, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa.

The indictment alleges all four defendants operated “Neurology & Pain Center Clinics” in Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Lakeland, Orlando and Jacksonville.

It also states the defendants distributed and dispensed drugs without adequate verification of the patient’s identity or medical complaint; without adequate and reliable patient medical history and without performance of a complete or adequate mental or physical examination.

The indictment says the four gave out drugs without establishing a treatment plan and without maintaining accurate and complete medical records.

This case was investigated by agencies including the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service’s Office of Inspector General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Division of Fraud.

It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kathy J.M. Peluso.

In connection with the arrest and indictment of the defendants in this case, patient files from the various locations of the Neurology & Pain Center clinics are currently in the custody of the HHS OIG and FDLE.

Patients can contact HHS OIG at (727) 449-1133 and the FDLE at (813) 878-7300, for information and instructions on how to obtain a copy of their medical records that were maintained at the Neurology & Pain Center clinics.

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