Investigators who carried out a raid on the Healthy Life Medical Group—a Lutherville pain clinic suspected of over-prescribing medication illegally—are seeking information about the business from former patients, medical professionals and community members.
The request was made in an email sent to Patch:
"The DEA is looking for people that have complaints with the Healthy Life Medical Group, the one that was raided by the Baltimore Co. Police Dept and DEA in May 2012. They [want] people to send their complaints or stories to HLMGDEA@gmail.com."
A pink sign that reads "Closed Until Further Notice" was affixed to the pain clinic's door, alongside a sign similar to the email above with a business card for special agent Brian M. Stine. (See photo) The sign however was torn down within 24 hours of its posting, Stine told Patch Friday.
"We want to leverage the different types of communication," Stine said. The DEA is look for information that will help with future investigations as well as information that will help agents better understand the growing epidemic of pain killer addiction.
"In my opinion, pharmaceuticals are the new marijuana," Stine said. "We have no interest in prosecuting these people when they reach out to us."
So far, three people have been arrested and charged in the investigation, according to police. Alina Margulis, 45, and Michael Jacob Reznikov, 51, both of Brooklyn, NY, as well Gerald Wiseberg, 78, of Boca Raton, FL, were charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics. (See photos.)
The investigation is ongoing.
The email should be considered, "an avenue to vent and give [The DEA] insight about what is going on out there," Stine said.
At least one woman had a complaint or two to share with her neighbors.
Residents of the Orchard Hills community, adjacent to the office building where the Healthy Life Medical Group ran its business were made aware of a potential problem at a zoning hearing in February, according community association president Jennifer Fryer.
A woman who identified herself as a worker in one of the offices in the same complex as the Healthy Life Medical Group said she developed suspicions concerning the clinic, Fryer said.
The woman noted that scores of out-of-state cars were in the parking lot, which was supported by observations in an affidavit in support of a search warrant to search the clinic. The clinic was located in the 1100 block of York Road, near the Interstate 695 exits. The woman said at the February public hearing that she suspected "some sort of illegal activity."
“Fortunately, there wasn’t a lot of activity that trickled into the neighborhood. The only thing that we were really aware of was that they had requested a zoning change," Fryer said.
“It’s disturbing," she continued. "But we kind of had known that something was up, but we didn’t know how much of what was going on. They weren’t going to tell us a lot because there was an ongoing investigation.”
DEA agents worked in cooperation with the Baltimore County Police Narcotics-Diversion Unit, using undercover agents between July 2011 to March 2012 to investigate the pain clinic, court records show.
The clinic was seeing between 120 and 140 patients a day, according to the affidavit. (See attached document.)
“I would drive by there on my way to the highway … and no matter what time of day the parking lot was always full, which was interesting," Fryer said. "But I didn’t know what kind of business they have in there. Is it alarming that it’s in the backyard of our neighborhood? Absolutely it’s alarming.”