Owners of pain clinic face drug charges
2 pain management center owners jailed on drug charges The business allegedly trafficked in oxycodone, sold Xanax and dispensed narcotics without a license.

By Will Greenlee staff writer
April 16, 2003

PORT ST. LUCIE - Two owners of Treasure Coast Pain Management Center were behind bars Tuesday after an investigation into allegations that their office was "an easy source for any type of prescription medication" - particularly OxyContin.

Lynne A. Davis, 51, of 4150 N.E. Hyline Drive in Jensen Beach, and Thomas J. Milano, 45, of Lighthouse Point, each face charges including trafficking in oxycodone, sale of Xanax and operating a continuing criminal enterprise.

Milano also faces a charge of dispensing narcotics without a license.

Sheriff Ken Mascara described the pain management center, in St. Lucie Square at U.S. 1 and Kitterman Road, as a "mirror of what was occurring with Dr. Luyao's practice."

Dr. Asuncion Luyao was arrested in March 2002 on prescription drug trafficking and related charges after investigators searched her offices in December 2001.

The state Department of Health suspended her medical license, citing complaints that drugs prescribed by the doctor "caused or contributed to" the deaths of 12 patients.

Mascara identified the physician at the pain management center as Dr. Norman H. Wasserman of Vero Beach, who was not arrested. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday and a message left with his answering service was not returned late Tuesday night.

Mascara said his agency's probe began about Jan. 1. Investigators entered the office to see whether they could obtain medicine, particularly OxyContin, without medical records or a past medical history, he said.

About a dozen times undercover officers "not only secured prescriptions, but turned around the prescriptions here and were able to obtain the actual narcotic at the business."

"It is not a licensed pharmacy," Mascara said. "There was no one in there that is a licensed pharmacist."

He said investigators always saw Wasserman on their visits.

"As trust developed between the undercover (officer) and the doctor, the dosage of the OxyContin request continued to rise to the point of the maximum," he said.

Davis and Milano were led out of the office about 6 p.m. as investigators carried boxes from the office.

Mascara said the business was open just a few months, operating two to three days a week.

"But it was getting well known in the community that if you wanted your prescription medication to come here," he said. "This was the infantile stage of something that was going to grow to be much bigger.

"This would be a mirror of what was occurring with Dr. Luyao's practice."

Mascara said the sheriff's office worked with the state Department of Health and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on the case. Jim Cooksey, a health department official at the scene, declined to comment.

Mascara said the office didn't take insurance and was "cash only."

"There's no exams done; there's no medical history; there's no past records; there's no MRIs; there's no X-rays," he said. "There's nothing to support the continued need for narcotics that he continues to prescribe."

Mascara said investigators will review the medical records to determine whether any Luyao patients were coming to the pain management center.

Two patients arriving as sheriff's investigators carted boxes out of the office came to Wasserman's defense.

"He's the best doctor I've ever been to," said Christy Exizian, 24, of Port St. Lucie. "He really cares."

Exizian, who said she has herniated discs, didn't think Wasserman was doing anything improper with her care.

"He just gives me enough to get through the day," she said.

Karen Denlinger, 38, of Port St. Lucie, echoed the sentiments.

"They've done nothing wrong to me," she said.

Davis' and Milano's bail amounts were unavailable late Tuesday.

- will.greenlee@scripps.com