Patients spilled out the door of the Pain Management Clinic in Pompano Beach, waiting for the quick visit that always ended with a pain prescription.
Even as officers flooded the pill mill at 10 a.m. Tuesday, a man waited in the morning heat, his 4-year-old son in a stroller by his side.
The patients waited for relief, but the flow of pills stopped.
A team from the Broward Sheriff’s Office arrested the owners: 35-year-old Frank J. Turturo Jr. and his 38-year-old wife, Bernice.
They were charged with 14 counts, including racketeering, trafficking and unlawful distribution of prescription drugs. They are being held at the Broward County Jail on more than $600,000 bond.
The cash-only, multi-million dollar business had operated for more than a year at 1341 S. Powerline Rd. It has been the subject of an interagency BSO investigation for a year.
Once inside the office, patients waited for a nurse to call them to a room. The clinic was lined with photos of characters from the hit TV show The Sopranos, Marlin Brando as The Godfather and American mobster John Gotti. A doctor would see them, and they’d leave quickly with a prescription, usually for oxycodone. The patients never failed to line up.
“A doctor would have to write 65 prescriptions a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year in order to account for the amount of prescriptions that they provided,” Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti said in an interview on Tuesday.
The sheriff said it’s suspected that the Turturo family has ties to the New York Colombo crime family and that the business was run similar to an organized crime system.
The business employed two armed guards and used devices that would warn them if their phones were being tapped.
Indications of improper practices popped up after two clinic patients died of overdoses. One died in Palm Beach County with a prescription for 100 pills from the clinic in his pocket. He still had 70 pills with him.
Later, the Broward County medical examiner’s office sent a letter to the clinic to warn that another of their patients had died of an overdose. That letter was found crumbled and tossed in the trash.
While pill mills are nothing new in Broward County, Lamberti said his department is cracking down on them one by one.
In 2007, there were about four pill mills in Broward. Around 2009, that number exploded to about 130, but now it’s down to 50.