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Sep 27, 2013 9:48 PM by Nathan O'Neal

New Owner: Embrace pain clinic had "shady" past

TUCSON - Nine employees of a pain management clinic were arrested following a 21-month investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

"Embrace Health and Pain Management Clinic" was the center of illegal distribution of prescription drugs, such as Oxycodone, according to the DEA. However, new management has been picking up the pieces of the troubled practice for more than a year now.

A nearly two-year investigation led DEA investigators to a clinic where investigators say nine employees were found to have been involved in the distribution of prescription drugs without medical cause.

The defendants facing charges include:
• Elizabeth D. Capotosti, Owner and Nurse Practitioner
• Kathleen A. Karaszewski, Nurse Practioner
• Alyssa Asch-McElmurry, Owner
• Kim D. Gonzalez, Office Manager
• Jorge Gonzalez, Security Guard
• Joseph Epperson, Staff Member
• Albaluz Portugal, Staff Member
• Santos M. Guillen Jr., Staff Member
• Adam A. Rosales, Staff Member

Tenants nearby say the space where "Embrace" use to be has been empty for about a year - but they also told News 4 Tucson that a lot of "shady business" took place when they were open.

When the business started to face troubles, it was put up for sale.

"They ended up listing the business with a business broker but they didn't disclose that they had the issues with the DEA or anything and doing due diligence... it was discovered," said Bob Pearlstein, the manager of "WellBeing", a pain management clinic that took over ownership of the business.

New management moved to a new location on the east side of town after a month but had to sort through a heap of problems.

"We found out that there were issues not only with the owners but with the staff," Pearlstein said.

A backlog of nearly 1,000 questionable clients came from "Embrace" - so new management set up a screening process to decipher which ones were legitimate patients.

"That eliminated the gross majority of patients that had been treated at Embrace," said Kevin Lewis, M.D., the Medical Director for "WellBeing."

The relatively new pain management clinic "WellBeing" has since been working to separate itself from the embattled roots of "Embrace."

"It's a real problem and we're trying to establish ourselves as a pain clinic that is following the chronic pain management guidelines and using other therapies besides just medication," Lewis said.

Management for "WellBeing" wants to make it very clear that the people who are facing charges have not had anything to do with the new pain clinic since it started about a year ago.

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