Broward County

Three pain clinic staffers admitted a pill scheme. The doctor gambled on a jury

Dr. Andres Mencia
Dr. Andres Mencia

Oakland Park doctor Andres Mencia, accused of prescribing 1,200 opioid doses a day while running a pill mill, beat nine of 10 drugs and fraud charges in federal court on Friday.

But Mencia likely will still see federal prison time and face further discipline from the Florida Department of Health, which already wants to discipline him for another matter.

Possession might be nine-tenths of the law with hard goods, but federal prosecutors' possession of guilty pleas by Adult & Geriatric Institute of Florida staffers was good for a guilty verdict on only one tenth of the charges against Mencia: conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

Not guilty verdicts came back for Mencia on conspiracy to commit mail fraud, conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and wire fraud, dispensing a controlled substance, money laundering, and structuring to avoid reporting requirements.

Mencia was represented by attorneys from the firm of noted criminal law defense attorney Roy Black, Black, Srebnick, Kornspan & Stumpf. He will be sentenced Sept. 7.

That's also when Mencia will find out what he's giving up in the material world. When prosecutors indicted Mencia, their forfeiture requests included two bank accounts and two homes. The real estate sought: Mencia's five-bedroom, five-bathroom Coral Ridge Country Club area house he bought for $1.4 million in 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, and a six-bedroom, 6 1/2-bathroom, 6,000-square-foot Delray Beach house Mencia bought in 2015 for $2.17 million.

Mencia made those purchases the same year prosecutors say he started a pill mill scheme that ran from January 2015 through October 2017.

In April, Mencia's office employees Nadira Sampath-Grant, John Mensah and Oscar Luis Ventura-Rodriguez each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States by unlawfully distributing controlled substances. Ventura-Rodriguez is beginning his five-year sentence in the downtown Miami federal detention center. Sampath-Grant and Mensah have yet to learn the length of their stay in federal custody.

Oscar Rodriguez
Oscar Ventura-Rodriguez has been sentenced to five years in prison. DEA

Ventura-Rodriguez's admission of guilt says, "Dr. Mencia ran an illegal drug diversion scheme. Patients complaining of purported pain came in through recruiters or word-of-mouth from existing patients. Office personnel, like the defendant, who were not licensed physicians, would perform what purported to be a medical evaluation on these patients.

"As a consequence of these purported consultations, the defendant and others presented Dr. Mencia with prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances for him to sign. Dr. Mencia signed those prescriptions. In addition, Dr. Mencia also pre-signed prescription pads, which were then provided to (Ventura-Rodriguez) and others for the purpose of issuing prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances."

Ventura-Rodriguez and Sampath-Grant's court documents admit to 600,000 10 mg Schedule II pills being distributed. That works out to about 598 per day.

Mencia has been a licensed medical doctor in Florida since 1997.

The Department of Health has filed an administrative complaint against Mencia, but more for inactions than actions at the Adult & Geriatric Institute. According to the complaint, a patient came to Mencia complaining of back and abdominal pain, chest pressure and vomiting. Though Mencia eventually ordered an ultrasound that showed possible gallstones, the complaint says he never discussed the results of the ultrasound with the woman or referred her to a surgeon.

A little over five weeks after the first ultrasound, another ultrasound revealed gallstones and she had to have emergency gall bladder removal.