Prison Sentences for Pill-Mill Docs
A federal judge in West Palm Beach has sentenced a South Florida doctor to more than six years in prison on money laundering charges related to her prescription of millions of oxycodone pills and other narcotics.
Also sentenced in the case Friday, a fellow doctor who received 18 months behind bars on similar charges. Both physicians were part of a broad 2010 investigation into so-called "pill mills".
Prosecutors said the cash only clinics where doctors Cynthia Cadet, 43, and Joseph Castronuovo, 74, worked were part of one of the nation's biggest illicit prescription drug operations. The two South Florida doctors worked in West Palm Beach and Broward county clinics overseen by Chris and Jeff George of Wellington. Both are serving lengthy prison sentences. Prosecutors said their clinics raked in about $40 million over two years, luring addicts and dealers from Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.
Attorneys for both doctors said they planned to appeal Friday's ruling. Last year a federal jury acquitted the doctors in the fatal overdoses of some patients but convicted them of participating in a money laundering conspiracy that carried a potential 10-year prison term.
Cadet and Castronuovo were the only physicians among more than 30 in the case who rejected federal plea deals.
Defense attorneys said Cadet and Castronuovo believed they were helping patients living with extreme pain when they doled out their monthly prescriptions.
Prosecutors say Cadet earned $1.5 million writing prescriptions for 2.5 million oxycodone pills over 15 months. Castronuovo, who at the clinics for less than a year, prescribed more than 750,000 and made $160,000.
Castronuovo's attorney Thomas Sclafani argued to U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra that his client wouldn't survive long in prison.
Cadet's attorney Michael Weinstein has asked the former Broward County emergency physician and mother of two receive probation, arguing her only crime was depositing money she earned into a bank. But Marra had already rejected that line of argument.
During the trial last year, neighbors testified about people shooting up in the clinic parking lot. A taped phone conversation between Chris George, who ran the clinics, and his mother, captured them laughing about a drug overdose linked to the clinics.