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Analysis

Surgeon Sentenced to Life in Prison for Overdose Death

By John Commins  
   July 09, 2018

Florida spine surgeon Johnny Clyde Benjamin, 52, used his Vero Beach office to manufacture counterfeit oxycodone, which was traced to the overdose death of a Palm Beach County woman.  

An orthopedic surgeon in Vero Beach, Florida, was sentenced to life in prison for his leading role in a counterfeit oxycodone ring that was linked to the death of a Palm Beach County woman.

Johnny Clyde Benjamin, Jr., MD, was convicted by a federal jury in April in the 2016 overdose death of Maggie Crowley, 34, of Wellington.

Prosecutors said Crowley died after overdosing on counterfeit oxycodone pills that contained a Fentanyl analog, Furanyl Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is much stronger than heroin or oxycodone.

A subsequent investigation determined that Benjamin, 52, was the source of the counterfeit drugs, which he was manufacturing from his Vero Beach office and distributing mostly outside of the South Florida area, prosecutors said.

Crowley was among 590 opioid deaths in 2016 in Palm Beach County, a record high. The number of people dying from fentanyl in their system rose to 310 from 91 a year before.

Crowley's family confronted Benjamin at the sentencing hearing in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, where they made emotional pleas for a lengthy sentence, as TCPalm.com reported. 

Crowley's husband, Shaun Crowley, told the court Benjamin was "an absolute monster."

Her parents asked the judge to sentence Benjamin to life in prison.

"Now that Maggie is gone, there is a bottomless, empty hole in my soul," said her mother, Margaret Divita.

"There hasn’t been a day gone by we don’t cry for her," said her father, Joseph DiVita, according to media accounts.

Benjamin's attorney Philip Reizenstein told local media that he would appeal the conviction and sentence.

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders.

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