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Police: Director of Surgery Center Tried to Traffic 28g of Fentanyl

Police arrest spine surgeon for drug charges during investigation into unrelated cell phone theft.

Published: October 16, 2017

DOCTOR CHARGED Vero Beach, Fla., Spine surgeon Johnny Clyde Benjamin Jr., MD, is being held in jail on charges of attempted drug trafficking, theft and robbery.

A Florida spine surgeon was arrested last week for trying to traffic fentanyl.

Johnny Clyde Benjamin Jr., MD, FAAOS, who serves as the director of the Pro Spine Center in Vero Beach, Fla., was arrested at his home Thursday and charged with attempted trafficking as well as seemingly unrelated robbery and grand theft charges, according to a criminal complaint from the Indian River County Sheriff's Office.

Police were investigating an allegation that Dr. Benjamin, 51, stole a cell phone when they served him with a warrant for attempted trafficking in fentanyl, court records show.

Dr. Benjamin tried to sell, buy or make 28 grams of the drug on Oct. 5, The Sebastian Daily wrote in a report on the surgeon's arrest.

The arrest came after an incident late last week when a man met with Dr. Benjamin in his office, the complaint said. The man told police he was carrying a cell phone, which Dr. Benjamin grabbed out of his hand and refused to return. The man finally left Dr. Benjamin's office and called police, prompting officers to go to Dr. Benjamin's home where they arrested the surgeon for the theft. They also served him with a warrant for drug trafficking. Details of the drug charges were not available. Dr. Benjamin is being held in jail on an $800,000 bond, court records show.

Before his directorship at the Pro Spine Center, Dr. Benjamin served as the chairman of the department of orthopedic surgery at Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach, Fla. He is a board-certified fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and is affiliated with the North American Spine Society, the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery IRMC and is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Florida State University, according to his biography at the center.

Dr. Benjamin, who completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa., also did a surgical spine fellowship at the Florida Spine Institute.

Anna Merriman


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