If you went to General Care Center pain clinic in a West Miami-Dade strip mall you didn’t need pain or a history of pain. You just needed a desire for oxycodone and cash. The doctors would take care of you.
That’s in the federal court guilty plea of 40-year-old Miami resident Habib Geagea Palacios aka Habib Geagea. Palacios pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and one count of distributing a controlled substance. He’ll be sentenced Jan. 26, 2022.
Though Palacios doesn’t appear on any of the state paperwork for General Care Center from July 2017 through October 2020, his admission of facts states that he was the owner and operator of the pain clinic that operated out of the strip mall at 7805 Coral Way.
The U.S. Justice Department said, “At General Care Center, Palacios paid doctors to prescribe opioids to nearly all patients who visited the clinic, resulting in the illegal distribution of more than two million tablets of Oxycodone 30 mg and generating more than $3 million in cash that was deposited into various bank accounts associated with the clinic and Palacios.”
Patients paid $200 to $250 for an oxycodone prescription. Palacios paid the doctors $60 to $120 for each prescription.
The doctors “admitted that they prescribed oxycodone to patients who appeared young and healthy, and to patients whose requests for oxycodone were inconsistent with their medical history, their descriptions of their pain and/or their patient files,” Palacios’ guilty plea noted.
Those doctors, Palacios’ guilty plea said, were John Cosby, Alan Swartz, Nancy Garcia, Kerry Lane, Jorge Gaviria and a sixth doctor who hasn’t pleaded guilty yet and is identified as “M.B.” They wrote so many opioid prescriptions, Palacios’ admission says, that “large retail pharmacies had stopped filling opioid prescriptions written by nearly all of the GCC physicians.”
The General Care Center physicians
▪ John Cosby was listed as the GCC’s president and/or registered agent on annual state filings from 2015 through 2019. Cosby’s guilty plea says he received $100 per prescription of 30 mg oxycodone tablets. He prescribed approximately 749,133 such tablets. He’s pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and dispense a controlled substance and awaits sentencing.
The online entry for Cosby’s Florida license says he’s held it since Sept. 26, 2000, his address of record is in the Bronx borough of New York City and he’s still a controlled substance provider.
▪ Alan Swartz also awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute and dispense a controlled substance. His admission of facts states he prescribed about 3,400 oxy tablets at 30 mg strength “to patients who had no legitimate medical need for the drug.”
Swartz made $60 per prescription. His online Florida license entry lists a Kendall address as his address of record and that he’s been licensed since Dec. 12, 1979.
▪ Nancy Garcia got $100 per prescription and her guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute and dispense a controlled substance says she prescribed at Palacios’ request, whether she saw the patient or another GCC physician.
The Hallandale Beach doctor’s license to practice in Florida has been revoked.
▪ Kerry Lane, licensed in Florida since 1982, prescribed about 49,000 oxy tablets at 30 mg strength and got $100 per patient.
Lane, 67, was sentenced to five years, 10 months in August for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, but the Federal Bureau of Prisons database says he’s not in BOP custody.
▪ Jorge Gaviria, Miami Lakes-based and licensed in Florida since 2005, wasn’t hired by Palacios, but worked at GCC. His guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute and dispense a controlled substance says he prescribed about 94,966 oxy tablets of 30 mg strength.