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Florida Pill Mill Owner Arrested Days before Wedding

http://articles.sun-sentinel.com

For better or for worse just got a whole lot worse than expected for one couple whose marriage plan was cut short by federal agents. Anthony Licata, a 29 year old resident of Plantation and Fort Lauderdale had every intention of tying the knot this past weekend, then he and his bride to be would sail away on a 10-day honeymoon cruise around Italy and Greece. However federal prosecutors showed up with an early wedding gift- an arrest warrant for the groom.

Details on Dealers

Three days before Anthony Licata’s wedding, federal authorities swooped in and arrested the South Florida man on federal charges that he allegedly operated at least three pill mills in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Investigators stated that Licata had been directing the illegal drug operations at the Georgia clinics by issuing orders over the phone from the comfort of his home. After they say they were able to tap his calls and allegedly heard him bragging to an associate about making $10,000 a week — or an estimated $750,000 in the last 18 months, the investigation really took a turn. Drug Enforcement Administration agents who had wire-tapped Licata’s phone say he acknowledged catering to drug dealers, knew what he was doing was illegal, and had even been noted as developing an “escape plan.”

Licata operated three clinics in the Atlanta area and hired Dr. David Battista, a psychiatrist “and self-proclaimed psycho-pharmacologist” with no pain management training or certification, to prescribe drugs to street level dealers and phony patients, who in turn take to the communities and sell these dangerous pills to drug addicts and the general public. David Battista is also a customer, a drug addict who according to court records is now serving nearly four years in federal prison for his pill mill crimes. Investigators claim Anthony later hired another physician to prescribe drugs at the clinics after Battista and Licata had a dispute..

Wedding Crashers

The wedding party had all planned to attend the couple’s church ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, followed by a lovely Boca Raton reception, but instead the suspects family and friends crowded into a hearing this week in federal court in Fort Lauderdale to sit in on the initial hearing. About two dozen supporters still hoped Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer would release Anthony Licata on bond, even though the wedding had already been postponed to this point.

With no such luck Judge Seltzer ruled that Licata was too much of a flight risk to bond, and was actually a potential danger to the community. Taking this into consideration Judge Seltzer ordered him jailed without bond. The judge also rejected a defense request to confine Licata on house arrest and have his family hire a retired federal agent to accompany him to court and other authorized outings. Licata’s family had offered to have him work from home at their construction business.

Anthony Licata is charged with conspiring to illegally distribute prescription drugs to “patients” with no legitimate medical need, including serious narcotics such as oxycodone and morphine. Licata also faces charges including a money-laundering conspiracy and running a pill mill.

Instead of reading his vows, Anthony Licata was read his rights, and instead of the luxurious wedding and honeymoon he had planned out, Anthony Licata found himself in a Broward County Jail. He has been in police custody since early Wednesday morning, August 6, 2014. If convicted of the most serious charge, he could face 30 years to life in prison.  The man who federal prosecutors have identified as the ringleader of the pill mill conspiracy is now awaiting transfer to face charges in Atlanta. So needless to say, this is one wedding that might have to be done behind bars.

With another victory for the state of Florida and the country in the war on drugs and the prescription painkiller addiction epidemic, there is more hope for those who are suffering due to the damages done by these pill mills and the distribution or dangerous and addictive pharmaceuticals. The prescription painkiller problem is serious, and most addicts do not realize how fatal this addiction is, but it’s not too late. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 

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