Critics like Woliner say such offers amount to "renting" doctor's licenses, an illegal but common practice in Florida. "That's aiding an unlicensed practice of medicine," he says. "But this is widespread. This happens with a lot of these cash clinics."


"I thought Tony Bosch was a medical doctor. [I] believed that he was."

Florida in particular has had trouble enforcing drug laws thanks to the DOH's decimation under Rick Scott. Four current and former investigators interviewed by New Times, three of whom declined to be named for fear of reprisal, detailed the breakdown in the bureau over the past two years.

First, in early 2012, an edict came down from Tallahassee: Investigators, who on average had more than 60 pending complaints on their desks, were ordered to "purge" cases. Those more than a year old were automatically closed; most newer cases were sent to Tallahassee, where DOH lawyers gave them a cursory look and declared them "legally insufficient."

Former clients say Tony Bosch posed as a doctor while selling HGH, steroids, and testosterone at his Coral Gables clinic, Biogenesis.
Miami-Dade Police Department
Former clients say Tony Bosch posed as a doctor while selling HGH, steroids, and testosterone at his Coral Gables clinic, Biogenesis.
A 2007 raid on the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center was the result of the biggest anti-aging sting in Florida history. But many charged in that case are now back in business.
C. Stiles
A 2007 raid on the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center was the result of the biggest anti-aging sting in Florida history. But many charged in that case are now back in business.

The next blow came in June 2012. That's when investigators learned they'd no longer be able to pick up unmarked cars at will, which had been the previous policy. They'd have to fill out onerous paperwork and red tape to schedule the cars ahead of time.

"The problem is this isn't an 8-to-5 desk job where you can plan everything out," one current investigator says. "You never know when a tip comes in and you need to run out to stake out an illegal pharmacy or doctor's office. The result was, it became much, much harder to mount investigations."

In March, the DOH closed its Hollywood office, where all the unlicensed activity investigators for the area had been based. They were scattered to auxiliary offices. Finally, in June, the investigators were told they'd no longer have access to the statewide database that tracks prescriptions. Supervisors in Tallahassee cited unspecified "misuse" by an investigator, sources say.

"That was a key tool for us because we could see immediately if someone was prescribing 10,000 oxy pills in one month," one current investigator says. "Suddenly, we're frozen out."

Even worse was the active interference. Christopher Knox, a retired cop who joined the department as an investigator in 2010, ran into similar resistance. He found evidence a Miami pharmacy was illegally selling painkillers and then was ordered by his superiors not to take that evidence to the DOH's prosecutors.

"They actually ordered me not to assist the police in going after someone who was breaking the law," says Knox, who was fired this past March and has filed a whistleblower complaint. "That's when I realized that I couldn't work in this organization any longer."

In a statement sent to New Times, DOH defended its policies and says it's serious about going after unlicensed doctors. Investigators can still get unlicensed cars when they need them, DOH says, and protecting their safety while working cases is "of utmost importance."

"The Department has dedicated more resources to combating the unlicensed practice of a health care profession and, for the first time, has established a statewide coordinator in Tallahassee," the statement reads.

But the problems described by Knox certainly aided Tony Bosch and his father, Dr. Pedro Bosch. They were first investigated by the department in 2009, when ESPN reported they were suspected as the source of PEDs that led Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez to fail a test, says a DOH source with intimate knowledge of the case. But no action was taken. Asked about that case, Ashley Carr, a department spokeswoman, says that "due to confidentiality constraints... we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a complaint." (Complaints against actual doctors like Pedro Bosch are public only if sustained.)

In 2011, the DOH opened a probe into Tony Bosch based on an anonymous complaint that he was practicing medicine without a license at his Gables clinic, then called BioKem. An investigator staked out the place and briefly interviewed Bosch's partner, Carlos Acevedo, who assured them Bosch was a "marketing" expert working on "referrals," according to state records. The investigator closed the case without interviewing Bosch or talking to any clients.

Worst of all, though, is what happened after New Times' January investigation into Bosch's clinic was published. DOH investigator Jerome Hill took up the case, hoping to charge Bosch with practicing medicine without a license — a felony that carries a minimum one-year prison term in Florida. Hill interviewed three patients, including Sharon Cohen, the domestic violence victim. All signed sworn affidavits that Bosch had presented himself as a licensed doctor.

Two weeks after interviewing Cohen, though, Hill got a call from Tallahassee: Tony Bosch would be sent a cease-and-desist letter and fined $5,000 (which was later reduced to $3,000). The case would be closed. Hill was flabbergasted. In an email sent to his boss, he warned that without more investigation, "the report will be sent up without the quality it requires." Even worse, DOH administrators then gave Miami-Dade prosecutors just a one-page letter with only a copy of Bosch's citation rather than Hill's full report.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle replied that there wasn't enough evidence to press charges. When WSVN-TV's Carmel Cafiero later showed Rundle's spokesman, Ed Griffith, Hill's full report, Griffith admitted he found it "very surprising" that the DOH had never provided it to prosecutors.

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8 comments
teachintv
teachintv

How many people have to suffer, die or become dismembered before Rick Scott and his Tea Bag minions are completely discredited and repudiated? This is only ONE area where the State has failed the people. There are so many illegalities going on in cosmetic surgery, gynecology, back room dentistry (particularly in Hialeah), and even drug abuse "rehab" that touch at least as many lives as misleading and mismanaged steroid distributors. Rick Scott has abused this state to feather his own nest, waiting to emerge from the Governor's office with more wealth than he ever imagined. 

Firip Onitsuka
Firip Onitsuka

You misspelled Stupid. W-I-L-L-I-N-G is not even close to S-T-U-P-I-D.

John Viera
John Viera

That open casket dude was ripped.

John Dudley
John Dudley

Florida is the only state that doesn't have laws.

Victor Runciman
Victor Runciman

Biogenesis should move to Lincoln, NE or Tuscaloosa, AL ... those 2 places are fitting for the pharmaceutical!

Steve Klare
Steve Klare

Heh if you want unfettered use of Marijuana same goes for this.Can't regulate one without the other

 
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