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Six arrested in raid on clinic

A months-long investigation found that doctors at the walk-in facility were illegally dispensing drugs, police say.

Published May 22, 2006

Six people were arrested Monday during a raid on a St. Petersburg walk-in clinic where authorities said doctors were improperly dispensing prescription drugs.

Among those arrested were two doctors, one of whom is licensed as a chiropractor and has no authority to prescribe drugs.

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Jim Bordner said the Doctors Urgent Care Walk-In Clinic, 4900 33rd Ave. N, has been under investigation for about five months. The investigation began after complaints from nearby residents and other local businesses about traffic and other concerns with the office.

Dr. Alex Petro, a chiropractor, was charged with three counts of practicing medicine without a license, two counts of racketeering in narcotics and one count of trafficking hydrocodone.

Dr. Mary Jane Eicher was charged with two counts of practicing medicine without a license, one count each of racketeering in narcotics and trafficking oxycodone.

Saleem Sharar is charged with four counts of practicing medicine without a license, three counts of racketeering in narcotics and one count of trafficking hydrocodone.

Jon N. Freed was charged with one count each of practicing medicine without a license and trafficking hydrocodone.

Belinda Nuzzi, a patient at the clinic, was arrested on an outstanding warrant for violation of pretrial release and sales and possession of a controlled substance; and Leonard John Walasiewicz was charged with possession of a controlled substance and violation of probation.

According to clinic patients, a person could go in and be seen by the doctor, who would prescribe drugs without an examination. The consultation would usually be paid for in cash. Then, the prescription would be filled at a local drug store. Dorothy Watson said her first visit cost her $245. She was told the second visit would only be $110.

"(Petro) asked me what I wanted, and I told him," said the 53-year-old former medical secretary who is on disability after having surgery on her back. "He's not a good doctor, but he was giving me my pain medication. Now, I'm a mess.

"It's no wonder people get addicted to these drugs."

[Last modified May 28, 2006, 10:31:24]

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