A molly-selling Wilton Manors doctor with 20 grams of meth in an office wall socket. An office assistant willing to involve her underage daughter in illegal drug deals.
That’s what Drug Enforcement Administration agents say they uncovered when they investigated Dr. Dominic Riganotti, who the DEA handcuffed last week along with his office assistant Jaquelin Fernandez.
Riganotti faces federal charges of unlawful distribution of human growth hormone, conspiracy to unlawfully distribute HGH, unlawful distribution of a controlled substance and possession of methamphetamine. In addition to the first two charges, Fernandez was charged with using a person under the age of 18 in drug operations.
Each posted bond, Riganotti for $200,000, Fernandez for $100,000.
Riganotti, 50, has been disciplined before. In 2011, the Florida Department of Health fined him $13,342.98 and put him on a year’s probation for a sexual relationship with a patient. He also wrote 76 prescriptions, including refills, for that patient from April to October 2010, according to the discplinary settlement agreement.
The infectious disease specialist runs a practice that sounds like a retro-doctor’s office: same-day appointments accepted, practice owned solely by the doctor, being on call 24/7.
“I detest needless formality, white coats, white walls and dead silence,” Riganotti says on his website. “My office is filled with vibrant color, sound, lights and most importantly laughter. It’s a much healthier place to be than most sterile doctors offices. It’s a lot more like Starbucks or Abercrombie and Fitch …. and I prefer it that way.”
High prescription counts of testosterone and Schedule II drugs (controlled substances) from Riganotti drew the DEA’s attention, according to the criminal complaint against Riganotti. So the DEA sent in a confidential source wired up for sound and video on each visit.
On the source’s first two visits, the complaint stated, he bought a prescriptions for 200 mg Testosterone Cypionate, 30 mg Adderall and the anabolic steroid Nandrolone from a male office assistant. He never saw Riganotti.
That meeting occurred on the source’s third visit, when Riganotti told him the male office assistant had been fired after stealing about $340,000 from the office and making prescription side deals with pharmacies. The complaint says the confidential source switched preferences to HGH, which Riganotti let Fernandez handle.
On the next visit, Nov. 15, 2016, Fernandez, 41, thought the source wanted only a one-week supply of HGH instead of a month. She took $350 payment for a week’s worth and told the source that he could come to her Coral Springs home to buy the rest.
In the office with Riganotti, the confidential source asked the doctor for “molly,” also known as “ecstasy.” Riganotti answered if he had known the source was coming, he would’ve had a patient bring some molly. But, the complaint said, he gave the informant a bottle of Tri-mix with another patient’s personal information partially torn from it and a past expiration date. He also and wrote a prescription for Percocet, a Schedule II drug.
Two weeks later, when the informant contacted Fernandez about buying more HGH as well as prescriptions to sell, the complaint says she had him come by her home. A Coral Springs detective saw a female, later established to be under 18 years old, come out of Fernandez’s house carrying a pink bag to the informant’s car before he even got to the front door.
She handed over three boxes of HGH and a syringe waste container. The informant handed over $1,000 and asked if she had any more HGH or drugs inside. The girl, called “the minor” in the complaint, allegedly called Fernandez to ask. She told the source to come back the next day.
But the next day, Nov. 30, the source visited Riganotti’s office and requested GHB, commonly called the “date rape” drug. Riganotti recommended Nuvigil instead. He wrote prescriptions for that and Dilaudid, a Schedule II pain medication.
The compliant said the same pattern held from the first shopping trip to Fernandez’s on Dec. 14 — the minor girl coming out of the house with the drugs to meet the source. She came out with a large bag of HGH boxes, but the source bought only four for $1,300.
The DEA claims a search warrant executed at a pharmacy favored by Riganotti turned up computerized records, firearms and $1.4 million. Upon executing the search warrants for Fernandez’s home and Riganotti’s office, the DEA said the two suspects talked after they got read the “right to remain silent” Miranda warning.
Fernandez said she bought the HGH she sold from patients she met through working at Riganotti’s. Riganotti said he prescribed that HGH and got a cut of what Fernandez sold. He said he needed the money.
“Dr. Riganotti also said he had methamphetamine inside a wall socket in his office,” the complaint said.
Federal agents allegedly found in that wall socket a medium-sized plastic bag with 20 grams of meth. A conviction means a minimum of five years in prison.