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A federal court issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting a Tampa-area pharmacist from filling prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances, the Department of Justice announced today.

In a complaint filed on August 1 and unsealed today, the United States alleges that Nathaniel Esalomi unlawfully distributed powerful opioids by filling prescriptions he knew were not valid at Apexx Pharmacy in Hudson, Florida, where he is the owner and sole pharmacist. The complaint alleges that Esalomi charged dramatically inflated prices to fill opioid prescriptions and accepted thousands of dollars in cash for the drugs. The complaint further alleges that Esalomi instructed individuals to forge signatures on certain forms and to falsify addresses. The complaint also alleges that Esalomi filled numerous controlled substance prescriptions for persons who were deceased.

“Pharmacists who knowingly fill invalid prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances violate the law and endanger our communities,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to prosecute medical professionals who put profit over public safety.”

“The illegal distribution of opioids by medical professionals has caused great harm to people in our communities, and has led to a nationwide epidemic,” said U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg for the Middle District of Florida. “We are committed to using every enforcement tool available to stop those individuals whose unlawful actions and abandonment of their professional responsibilities have fueled the opioid crisis.”

“In the midst of a deadly overdose epidemic in our country, addressing the diversion of opioids and other controlled substances is a top priority for DEA,” said Special Agent in Charge Deanne L. Reuter of the DEA Miami Field Division. “DEA remains steadfast in our commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure that our communities are safe and healthy.”

The temporary restraining order was issued by U.S. District Judge Thomas Barber in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. The pending complaint seeks to permanently enjoin Esalomi from filling prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances, and from owning or supervising a pharmacy.

DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad in the Tampa District Office is conducting the ongoing investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn B. Tapie and Trial Attorneys Thomas S. Rosso and Scott B. Dahlquist of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch are handling the case.

The claims made in the complaint are merely allegations that the United States must prove if the case proceeds to trial.

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