Three Greater Cleveland area diet clinics have ceased operations and shuttered their doors after county prosecutors indicted the owner and several workers for running a pill mill that illegally pedaled weight-loss amphetamines.
According to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, the 18 month investigation found that Diet Med Clinics illegally sold more than one million doses of Phentermine, an appetite suppressant.
A 227-count indictment returned by a Grand Jury charged Janet Paulino, Virginia Paulino, Rogaciano Trocio and Maria Siwik with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, drug trafficking and money laundering. Diet Med Clinics, owned by Janet Paulino, 70, operated in Mayfield Heights, Fairview Park and Mentor. The clinics have been closed since March 25, 2015.
“There was no medical care. No doctor-patient relationship. None,’’ said Assistant County Prosecutor James A. Gutierrez. “People came to these so-called clinics, paid their money and received their drugs.”
Accoridng to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, the investigation found that Dr. Trocio, 75, used his physicians credentials to purchase large quantities of stimulants. The doctor allegedly had minimal contact with patients as hundreds of thousands of doses were dispensed directly from the clinics. Distributing the drugs in this manner bypassed pharmacies.
Among the investigators was a visibly pregnant woman, who was able to purchase drugs at the clinics with "little regard for standard medical screening or practice."
“Controlled substance stimulants used for weight loss, can be harmful to patients who are not properly monitored by a physician,” said Jesse L. Wimberly, a spokesman for the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy. “This indictment shows the commitment by Local, State and Federal Law Enforcement to investigate prescribers who knowingly fail to offer legitimate care to their patients.”
According to doctors, improper use of drugs like Phentermine may cause heart attacks, kidney failure, seizures and death. Prolonged or improper use can also lead to dependency and addiction.
Patients following standard medical procedures, patients might take the amphetamines distributed by Paulino's clinics for up to three months and under a doctor's supervision. Prosecutor's allege that some customers of Diet Med Clinics had been buying the drugs from them for years.
“These clinics were mere fronts to traffic scheduled stimulants while performing sham medical treatments,” the indictment states. “There was no legitimate therapeutic purpose to distribute these scheduled stimulants over the time frame or in the quantities given.”
All four defendants are scheduled for arraignment on Sept. 1 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.