The DOJ announced that Paragon Community Healthcare, a Tampa-area pain management clinic, would be closed to resolve allegations of violating the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”). The clinic owners, Theodore Ferguson II and Timothy Ferguson (the “Fergusons”) along with the prescribing doctor, Dr. Tobias Bacaner, were ordered to collectively pay $600,0000 in civil penalties for their alleged violations.

According to the Complaint filed in February 2021, Dr. Bacaner prescribed illegitimate opioids while working as the prescribing physician at Paragon.  Dr. Bacaner prescribed opioids, in the highest formulas, to almost every patient who received a controlled substance without any medical justification. He predominately prescribed 30 milligrams of oxycodone, and he regularly prescribed dangerous combinations of controlled substances. Dr. Bacaner allegedly ignored obvious red flags, like cash payments and immediate release opioids, to profit from the opioid epidemic. In turn, Dr. Bacaner’s patients went to Cobalt Pharmacy Inc., a pharmacy also owned by the Fergusons, to have their prescriptions filled without question. It is alleged that Cobalt Pharmacy filled 78 controlled substance prescriptions for one patient within two years.

The United States further alleged that Dr. Bacaner’s unlawful prescriptions led to the death and/or permanent injuries of multiple individuals. Dr. Bacaner is now prohibited from prescribing, administering, dispensing, or distributing controlled substances. He was also ordered to pay $500,000 in civil penalties. The Fergusons were ordered to pay $100,000 in civil penalties, to permanently close Paragon, and restricted from working for or owning entities that distribute controlled substances. They also previously agreed to permanently dissolve Cobalt Pharmacy. 

U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg for the Middle District of Florida noted that “Dr. Bacaner and his associates profited from unlawfully prescribing opioids without a legitimate medical purpose […]” and “[w]e will continue to protect the community from those who place a higher value on profit than the safety of the public.” 

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