May 1, 2018: Vero Beach Orthopedic Surgeon Convicted at Trial of Fentanyl Analog Drug Conspiracy Resulting in Death
Johnny Clyde Benjamin, Jr., M.D., an orthopedic surgeon practicing in Vero Beach, Florida, was found guilty by a federal jury in Fort Lauderdale, on April 27, 2018, of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute Furanyl Fentanyl which resulted in death, aiding and abetting the distribution of Furanyl Fentanyl which resulted in death, attempted possession with intent to distribute Acetyl Fentanyl, possession with intent to distribute Oxycodone, and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute Hydrocodone and Oxycodone.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Adolphus P. Wright, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, Peter J. Forcelli, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Office; Peter Kuehl, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI); Mark Selby, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI); Dave Aronberg, State Attorney, Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office; Bruce Colton, State Attorney for the 19th Judicial Circuit; Ric Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO); Deryl Loar, Sheriff, Indian River County Sheriff’s Office; and Renee Purden, Chief, Orlando Melbourne Airport Police Department, made the announcement.
The evidence presented at the trial established that on September 1, 2016, a young woman who resided in Wellington, Florida died after overdosing on counterfeit oxycodone pills. The pills contained a Fentanyl analog, Furanyl Fentanyl, as the active ingredient. Furanyl Fentanyl is an extremely powerful synthetic opioid, many times more powerful than street level heroin or oxycodone.
Following a toxicology analysis, the Office of the District Medical Examiner of Palm Beach County attributed the cause of decedent’s death to the Furanyl Fentanyl.
An extensive investigation by law enforcement identified Dr. Benjamin as the source of the Furanyl Fentanyl pills that caused the decedent’s death. The investigation also revealed that Dr. Benjamin was involved with the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit oxycodone pills, outside the South Florida area.
The jury acquitted Dr. Benjamin on all firearms charges, including possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Dr. Benjamin is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas on July 6, 2018 at 1:30 p.m.
Dr. Benjamin faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison, up to a maximum term of life, for the conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute Furanyl Fentanyl (resulting in death) and distribution of Furanyl Fentanyl (resulting in death); a maximum of 20 years in prison for attempted possession with intent to Acetyl Fentanyl; a maximum of 20 years in prison for possession with intent to distribute Oxycodone; and a maximum of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute Hydrocodone and Oxycodone.
This case is the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of DEA, ATF, FDA-OCI, PBSO, HSI-ICE, Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, and Orlando Melbourne Airport Police Department. Mr. Greenberg also thanked the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office and State Attorney’s Office for the 19th Judicial Circuit for their assistance. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John McMillian and Rolando Garcia.