POMPANO BEACH (CBSMiami) –Members of the Broward Sheriff’s organized crime unit and a department SWAT team raided the offices of a pain clinic in Pompano Beach Tuesday morning which they suspect was operating as a ‘pill mill’.
“They bashed in, they busted in the door,” said patient Hillary Russell. “They made every one put their arms up in the air, hands on their head. They made us all come sit out here cuffed, everybody was in plastic cuffs.”
Chopper4 over the clinic, at 1341 S. Powerline Road spotted approximately two dozen people in flex cuffs lined up along one side of the building. There were also several women dressed in medical scrubs being led across the parking lot in flexible handcuffs to vehicles or tents where they were being interviewed by investigators.
The sheriff’s office said the raid was the result of a year-long investigation which found not only was the clinic operating as a pill mill, but it’s owners ma have ties to the Colombo crime family.
“It’s a cash business and it’s no different than traditional organized crime,” said Sheriff Al Lamberti.
Inside the clinic, which had pictures of John Gotti and Marlon Brando as Scarface on the walls, investigators said found a device that alerted an individual if their phone was being tapped.
“If they were a legitimate pain clinic they’d have no need for equipment like this,” said Lamberti.
The clinic’s owners, 35-year old Frank Turturo II and his 38-year old wife Bernice, were arrested and will face 14 counts including money laundering, trafficking in oxycodone, unlawful distribution of prescription drugs and racketeering.
“They threw me on the ground” Bernice Turturo told CBS4’s Maggie Newland.
Turturo swore she didn’t know what was going on.
“Do the people who come here legitimately need pain pills,” asked Newland.
“Yes,” said Turturo.
“How do you verify that,” asked Newland.
“We verify everything they come in with, MRIs are verified, prescriptions are verified, physical exams, we verify it,” said Turturo.
Nurse Yunet Enrigues backed up her boss.
“They feel the patient is part of the family, you know” said Enriques. “We take care of the patient, we talk to the patient, you know, like a family.”
Turturo denied her family or the business is connected to organized crime.
“Do you have a connection to organized crime,” ask Newland.
“No,” said Turturo.
“Well the police say there is a connection,” said Newland.
“Well it’s not with me,” said Turturo.
In addition to the raid, sheriff’s deputies also performed a search of the Turturo’s home in Coral Springs where they found behind a false wall in the home a number of firearms and ammunition.
“My husband has registered guns,” said Turturo. “He’s a gun collector.”
Max Chira, who owns the property where the clinic is located, said he knew nothing of the raid. He said the clinic, which treats people without insurance, has been in his building for two to three years. He added that he’s never had a problem with them.
Investigators say they are also looking into whether a doctor who works at the clinic will face charges.