I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but in the last few months a new pain management clinic was opened in the strip mall behind our house called Tampa Bay Wellness Centre. For two and a half years, we’ve had no problems with the strip mall that is just over our fence. But in the last few months, that has changed.
On January 31st, a Saturday, Debi and I woke up to the sounds of chainsaws. I didn’t immediately realize from where the sound was coming, but soon realized that someone was cutting down all of the trees on the other side of our fence by the strip mall. No one had approached us about doing this. What’s more, the previous owner of the house who put in our fence, didn’t actually put the fence on our property line, but instead put the fence about 2 to 3 feet away from our property line because he didn’t want to cut down those trees. Ergo, the trees they were cutting down were actually at least partially our trees, on our property. I went out, stuck my head over the fence, and got the attention of the woman who was cutting down the trees. I mentioned to her that the trees were on my property, which immediately gave her pause. She was hired to cut them down and was told that they were on the property of the owner of the strip mall. She immediately went to talk to the person who had hired her to let him know that this was sketchy. He and another business owner then came around to my place where I was out talking with my neighbor, to apologize and try to smooth things over. A little late – the trees were already cut down!
Over the last month, with the trees gone, we’ve had several instances where people have been walking around in the alley behind the strip mall at 11:00 pm talking loudly or yelling. I went out there a couple of weeks ago after a guy had been talking loudly for over an hour at 11:00 pm and popped my head over our fence. I don’t know who he was, but he didn’t wait around – he dropped his phone and ran.
One other time over the past week there have been people talking loudly in the alley at night. But last night, at 11:00 pm, it was really getting on my nerves. Then a car alarm went off, waking up Toren. I’d had enough. I went into our backyard to see what was going on, but by that time no one was back there, despite there still being 6 or 7 cars in the alley. So I decided I’d walk around to the front of the strip mall to see what was going on.
I’m probably too naive to realize that this was very risky, but I was pissed. As I walked around the corner to the strip mall and started to head down the sidewalk, I started noticing a group of people hanging out in front of the Tampa Bay Wellness Centre. As I got closer, I realized these people were not really the kind of people I’d want to run into late at night – they were wearing tattered clothing, looked unkempt, looked to be in relatively poor health, had various scars, and looked, well, mean. Having no experience with drug dealers, I can’t say for certain that’s what they looked like, but that was the initial impression I received – white, scummy, drug dealers. There were about 6 or 7 of them standing in front of the Tampa Bay Wellness Centre. When I got to the door of this “clinic”, I started to ask the people sitting around outside if it was open, but then one of them opened the door and walked in, so I followed him. Inside, at 11:00pm on a Friday night, there were at least another 15 to 20 people sitting around a makeshift clinic, watching TV. They looked just like the people outside.
Cut into one wall was a window where I assumed the staff were. I waited while the guy who entered before me asked if he was up yet. Then it was my turn. In the little, unfinished, and really scary looking office, there were three people I could see – a young woman, a young man, and Gloria, a middle-aged woman. I started right in on them, complaining about the noise and wanting to know what was going on. Gloria was the one who piped up and denied that it was them, claiming that they didn’t let anyone back in the alley. BS! I mentioned the car alarm and told them I have an 8-month old son. She apologized, then said that they were going to be leaving in a week. When I asked why, the young man said, “Does it matter? You don’t want us to leave?” To which I responded, “No, you leaving would be great, but it just looks funny for you to set up shop for a month or two then leave.” Anyway, I ended up getting the card of the Doctor who supposedly runs the clinic and Gloria’s name, then warned her that I would start phoning in noise complaints to the police every time I heard them from now on. At this, one of the patrons said, “If you have a problem with this place, you can go talk to the police officer who is watching it from his cruiser in the parking lot over.” I told him I just might.
I walked out to glares from some of the patrons, then headed back the way I came. I did notice as I walked that there was a Tampa Police cruiser in the parking lot opposite the clinic as the patron said, so I went over to the cruiser to see what was going on. I think he was a bit wary at first, but when I introduced myself and explained what I was doing, he relaxed and we started to chat. He was, in fact, observing this “clinic” because the police are fairly confident that what is happening is that the doctor is simply writing whatever patients walk in prescriptions for narcotics and painkillers. My neighbor and I had guessed this was what was happening, but to hear the police confirm that it was the suspicion was surprising, especially because the officer said there was nothing they could do at this point. That annoyed me because the local police recently busted a bunch of people in the Tampa area doing just this. As we talked, the officer was amazed to hear that I had gone into the clinic. He was also amazed that it was open at 11:00pm on a Friday night. He kept saying, “I don’t know of any doctor’s offices that are open that late at night.” Anyway, the officer was nice and did confirm that I could call in noise complaints after 11:00 whenever they occurred. So, I’ll be doing that.
But I also decided to look into things a bit more this morning. Here’s what my internet sleuthing has discovered:
Ronald J. Heromin
Ronald J. Heromin is the doctor who is running the Tampa Bay Wellness Centre. He is licensed in Florida. However, he was been disciplined by the Florida Board of Medicine, on April 4, 2009, for beginning to operate on a patient’s wrong leg. (You can see a copy of the discipline decision here as well.) Unfortunately that only ended in a $5,000 fine. Dr. Heromin has also recently filed for bankruptcy with close to $150,000 in debt. This sounds like the perfect recipe for a doctor to start slumming it, doling out prescriptions for narcotics. I, of course, cannot say that Dr. Heromin is doing that, but his clinic is certainly sketchy. The clientèle were sketchy. And staying open late at night on a Friday doling out prescriptions in a clinic that, from my quick purview, doesn’t even have a room to see patients seems really, really sketchy. So, I don’t know what Dr. Heromin is doing, but it’s not above reproach.
Because I don’t want to keep the card I took that night any longer, I’m posting all of the information it included here:
Tampa Bay Wellness Centre
Office of Ronald J. Heromin, M.D.
1943 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Tampa, FL 33607
Phone: (813) 374-8950
Fax: (813) 374-8949
Ettinberg Properties, LLC & Haim Goldenberg
The owner of the strip mall where Tampa Bay Wellness Centre is located is Haim Goldenberg, the registered agent of Ettinberg Properties, LLC. Here’s the property tax information on the property, which says it is worth $1.4 million. And here’s the corporate information on Ettinberg Properties, LLC. Apparently he’s living quite well – here’s a picture of his home courtesy of Google Maps. It’s 2009 market value is $688,764.00. He’s also the registered agent of Universal Auto Leasing Inc. at 8542 N Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, FL 33614, which looks like some strange car rental or leasing location. I’d laugh if this also happens to be Haim Goldenberg, the famed Israeli mentalist, but I doubt it.