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Drug Charges Dropped Against Tampa Doctor

Six months after Tampa physician, Dr. Christina Paylan and her boyfriend, Joseph Abdo, were charged in state court for drug possession, the charges have now been dismissed.

Last summer, police found syringes and empty boxes of Demerol in the trash outside Dr. Paylan’s home. Inside the home, authorities discovered more prescription meds like hydrocodone, Demerol, Valium and Xanax that had not been prescribed to either Paylan or Abdo. They pursued drug charges.

Now, because doctors are allowed to store drugs and drug samples, the state has dismissed the charges. Prosecutors told the media that they still believe that evidence is suspicious because some containers were opened or empty.

Dr. Paylan still faces charges in a second case in which she is accused of using a patient’s identification to get Demerol for herself. She was charged earlier this fall with obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, as well as fraudulent use of personal information.

In August, state officials suspended Paylan’s license in an emergency order, alleging that she posed an immediate threat to the public. The Department of Health listed their evidence in a 17-page administrative complaint, which alleges that Paylan used a patient’s name to obtain Demerol. The complaint also states that when police searched Paylan’s home they found bloodstains in the carpet and used syringes scattered through the house.

It seems likely that prosecutors felt that a jury might find reasonable doubt when faced with the possession charges, due to the legality of a physician possessing drug samples. It seems clear that authorities believe that Paylan was using or abusing the drugs herself, rather than just storing them. But the legal elements of the crime reference only unlawful possession (or constructive possession). If her possession was lawful by the letter of the law, a jury was likely to return a not-guilty verdict.

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