In the Tampa Bay area of Pinellas Park, literally thousands of people would traipse in and out of the building called Dollar Medical Clinic – many from hundreds of miles away. They knew from experience, or word of mouth, that it was “easy” to get narcotic prescriptions from the doctor named Jacinta Gillis.
So they came from far and wide, for diazepam, for methadone, for oxycodone, and more. And they almost always walked away with whatever they wanted.
“She handed out prescriptions like candy,” says Florida state prosecutor Kelly McKnight. “People were coming in and out of the doors all day every day with no medical evaluations at all. This doctor performed no real physical exams. She just wrote out script after script after script.”
And now, in what the Pinellas County Sheriff calls “the most flagrant pill mill case in county history,” Doctor Jacinta Gillis, age 46, has been convicted of operating an illegal drug-running business out of her two clinics – one in Pinellas Park and the other in Leehigh Acres.
The doctor was originally arrested on charges of Racketeering, Money Laundering, Conspiracy to commit racketeering, and Conspiracy to traffic controlled substances.
Gillis told the jury at trial that she did not commit any crimes and was just trying to help patients cope with their pain.
“They were there because they were suffering. They came to me because I cared,” Gillis said, in tears. “What I pray and what I hope for is that you can see the truth.”
But in the prosecution’s argument, McKnight countered that Gillis would routinely see “50 to 70 people each day.” He said so-called “patients” would line up at the door for prescriptions that they paid $125 in cash to get their hands on.
Gillis would prescribe medications without examining her patients, and sometimes would only see them via webcam, McKnight said. Some of her patients were already drug addicts; others became hooked on the medications after repeatedly receiving the drugs from Gillis.
“They became so dope-sick,” McKnight added, “that when the clinic got shut down, they turned to the street dealers.”
Pinellas Sheriff’s detectives investigated the clinic for two years, during which time undercover deputies visited Gillis’s office and met with her for no more than two minutes each time. One detective testified he was prescribed 150 oxycodone pills and 20 diazepam pills on his very first visit.
Gillis’ drug dealings earned her well over $1,000,000 a year – money obtained unlawfully, McKnight said.
But Gillis, who lives in Fort Myers, told the court she is innocent, saying the jury had heard of her “flawless medical history” and her extensive experience in pain management. She said she charged $125 for prescriptions because other clinics charged more – up to $400 – and she was trying to help low income patients.
Gillis was found guilty November 2 and awaits her sentencing. She could get 25 years in state prison.
Here’s another look: