Two Pompano Beach firefighters were arrested on Wednesday as part of a statewide crackdown on pain clinics.
Craig Turturo and Lewis Stouffer were arrested, said Pompano Beach Fire Rescue spokeswoman Sandra King. They are both 11-year veterans of the department with spotless records, King said.
They were among seven doctors and seven clinic owners who have been charged on state racketeering violations across Florida in a crackdown dubbed "Operation Pill Street Blues."
Authorities described Stouffer as the ringleader of a lucrative drug trafficking organization that ran nine pain clinics, including ones on Ives Dairy Road and in Vero Beach, Jacksonville and other cities around the state.
Stouffer researched public records relating to previous DEA investigations, including Operation Pill Nation and Operation Oxy Alley, so he could avoid law enforcement scrutiny, authorities said. He also took advantage of his firefighter and paramedic status to maneuver through the system, maintaining a rapport with local law enforcement, according to authorities.
Last year Turturo and Stouffer were stopped by the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office for putting up signs advertising a pain clinic, and they were charged with misdemeanors, King added.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office investigated but couldn’t find anything illegal, she said.
"We take this very seriously. Both firefighters will be put on immediate suspension without pay pending the outcome of this federal investigation. This is not indicative of the Pompano Beach Fire Department," King said.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents and BSO deputies spent the morning searching Stouffer's Coconut Creek home, carrying out boxes of evidence and looking through the Mercedes in the garage, in addition to arresting Stouffer.
Authorities identified the defendants charged as Bruce Karlin, 63, of Delray Beach; Courtland Twyman, 38, of Deerfield Beach; Jeffrey Thompson, 32, of Pompano Beach; Dale Gatlin, 59, of Jacksonville; Jeffrey Reiter, 54, of Fort Pierce; Dr. Bruce Kammerman, 54, of Palm City; Dr. Susan Yandle, 48, of Jacksonville; Dr. Fernando Valle, 58, of Orlando; Dr. Roger Gordon, 65, of Plantation; Dr. Joseph Buffalino, 64, of Sarasota; Dr. Sanjay Trivedi, 49, of St. Johns; and Dr. Michael Bengala, 67, of Pompano Beach.
“These defendants are despicable. They’re sickening, and they’re worse than your typical defendants,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said. As doctors and firefighters, they should be held to a higher standard, she said.
According to WPTV, officials also raided Stuart Pain Management on the 100 block of U.S. 1 on a search warrant where they arrested Kammerman. He alone prescribed more than 644,000 30-milligram tablets of Oxycodone, authorities said.
Authorities said they searched seven pain clinics in the crackdown, after a two-year investigation led by the DEA.
“The seven doctors arrested today were willing to write prescriptions for patrons that had no legitimate medical need for such medications. These doctors were responsible for prescribing and/or dispensing over 2.1 million Oxycodone tablets in one year,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Mark Trouville said.
Wednesday’s multiagency operation comes on the heels of another pain clinic raid in Pompano Beach earlier this month where a husband and wife were arrested, according to authorities.