On Friday, it was announced that an orthopedic surgeon practicing in Vero Beach, Florida had been charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance which resulted in death, attempted possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and aiding and abetting the distribution of a controlled substance which resulted in death. Johnny Clyde Benjamin Jr. M.D. was indicted by a federal grand jury in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The charges were the result of an opioid and furanylfentanyl (FUF) investigation that was initiated in September of 2016. The investigation was related to the overdose death of a young woman who resided in Wellington, Florida. It was believed that the overdose death was linked to counterfeit oxycodone pills, which were found in the woman’s possession after her overdose.
Forensic analysis determined that the pills were illicitly manufactured using FUF. This immensely powerful synthetic opioid is much more powerful than street level heroin and oxycodone. The toxicology analysis carried out by the Office of the District Medical Examiner of Palm Beach County ultimately determined that the fentanyl analog FUF was the cause of death.
An investigation led to Dr. Benjamin and determined that he was the source of the FUF pills. Investigators discovered a distribution network suggesting that Dr. Benjamin was involved in the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit oxycodone pills from the South Florida area.
If Dr. Benjamin is convicted, he will face a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and distribution of a controlled substance. He will face 20 years for attempted possession with intention to distribute controlled substances as well. As this point in time, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Additional details can be found here.