Freeport Physician Sentenced to 30 Years for Illegally Prescribing Controlled Substances
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 15, 2014|
PENSACOLA, FL—Freeport physician Robert L. Ignasiak, Jr., 58, was sentenced to 30 years in prison yesterday for health care fraud, illegally distributing controlled substances, and failing to appear for trial. The sentence imposed by the court was announced by Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
Between 2001 and 2005, while operating the Freeport Medical Clinic, Ignasiak developed a reputation as a physician who freely prescribed highly addictive controlled substances. During that time, Ignasiak prescribed drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, diazepam, and alprazolam in dosages and combinations that caused his patients to abuse and become addicted to the drugs. Ignasiak continued to prescribe these substances even after becoming aware that his patients were abusing them. He did this in spite of indications that his patients were not taking the medicines as prescribed, were stealing drugs, were “doctor shopping,” were taking the medicines with alcohol, were suffering overdoses, or were exhibiting other out-of-control behaviors. Ignasiak’s illegal prescribing practices resulted in the deaths of several of his patients.
Ignasiak was initially indicted on these charges in 2008. Following a jury trial in the fall of that year, Ignasiak was convicted of 12 counts of health care fraud and 31 counts of illegally distributing controlled substances. In 2012, Ignasiak’s convictions were reversed on appeal, and he was released from custody pending a retrial. On October 31, 2012, Ignasiak faked his own suicide and fled. A warrant was issued for his arrest. He was arrested in Coral Springs, Florida, in September 2013, and his retrial had been scheduled for December 2, 2013.
In October 2013, Ignasiak pled guilty to 12 counts of health care fraud, 29 counts of illegally distributing controlled substances, and one count of failing to appear for trial.
The charges were the result of a four-year joint investigation by the North Florida Health Care Fraud Task Force, composed of the Federal Bureau of Investigation-Jacksonville Division, the Florida Department of Financial Services, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Attorney General’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration-Miami Division, the National Drug Intelligence Center Document Exploitation Division, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, and the State Surgeon General-Florida Department of Health.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen Rhew-Miller and Alicia Kim prosecuted this case.