New efforts to stop America’s opioid abuse problem
Federal agents arrested a Palmetto Bay doctor Tuesday on manslaughter, drug dealing and trafficking charges after an investigation into the overdose death last year of a Florida Keys woman showed that the physician prescribed her 180 Oxycodone pills a month in a scheme to feed her patients’ and her own addictions, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
Dr. Marta Elena Farinas, 48, was booked into Miami-Dade County jail on a bond of $100,000. U.S. Drug Enforcement agents arrested her Tuesday at her Palmetto Bay clinic, Pinecrest Medical Group, 157155 S. Dixie Hwy.
The Key Largo woman, Leigh Anne Milazzo, 35, died of an accidental overdose of Oxycodone and Alprazolam in March 2018, according to the sheriff’s office.
Farinas’ former boyfriend died of an overdose of fentanyl, Oxycodone and heroin in May 2018, according to the Florida Attorney General’s Office, which said in a press release that detectives interviewed Farinas about her “knowledge and possible involvement in acts leading to the death.”
According to the sheriff’s office offense report, deputies found a large number of prescription pills and pill bottles when they found Milazzo’s body inside her Bonefish Avenue home March 13, 2018. Adam Linhardt, spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said deputies found evidence Farinas prescribed 180 Oxycodone pills a month to Milazzo, “on top of a litany of prescription drugs.”
Investigators found cellphone text messages between Farinas and Milazzo where they both discussed sharing pills that Farinas prescribed, and they also talked about meeting to exchange pills, Linhardt said.
According to the offense report, in one of the text messages, Farinas asked Milazzo, “U gonna spare 30 blues?”
Sheriff deputies say Farinas, an osteopath whose Florida Department of Health records show no disciplinary history, prescribed large amounts of pills to Milazzo and other patients and asked them to give her a portion of them after they picked up the drugs from different pharmacies.
Farinas and Milazzo first met each other when they both worked at Baptist Hospital in Kendall, according to the offense report.
Milazzo’s husband, Dorian Milazzo, found her body when he returned home from work, according to the report. He said his daughter told him Milazzo had been sleeping all day.
“Mr. Milazzo advised that he tried to wake his wife, but she was cold to the touch,” Detective Rosary Ponce wrote in the report.
Dorian Milazzo told police his wife suffered from arthritis and began taking pain pills after complications from a C-section. She was taking eight Oxycodone pills at a time, he told police. She also suffered from depression and insomnia, according to the report.
“Dorian said he believed Dr. Farinas was aware of Leigh’s abuse to the medication,” Ponce stated.
On the day she died, a deputy called Farinas, who said she wanted to speak with Dorian Milazzo. The phone was on speaker.
Farinas asked the husband if anyone else was listening, which he replied there wasn’t. Farinas, according to Ponce’s report, told the husband to decline an autopsy because if something was found to indicate a possible overdose or suicide, “The insurance will not pay him.”
Farinas’ prosecution will be handled by the state Attorney General’s Office in Miami-Dade, Linhardt said.