Florida Pill Mill Physicians Begin Trial
Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) July 25, 2013 - The criminal trial of two South Florida “pill mill” doctors commenced on a recent Friday in a West Palm Beach federal court.
Cynthia Cadet, 43, of Parkland, is blamed in the overdose deaths of seven people. Joseph Castronuovo, 74, of Key Largo, is blamed for another two deaths. During opening statements, federal prosecutor Paul Schwartz told the jury the doctors had become “dope dealers.” Defense attorneys said they were innocent, caring doctors.
“It will take a long time to legally sort out all the damage done by Florida's formerly lax painkiller laws,” said Tampa personal injury lawyer Robert Joyce. “And this is what we're seeing now. It is a physician's responsibility not to enable a drug addict, and prosecutors will have to prove these doctors acted irresponsibly with their prescriptions.”
Defense attorneys also told jurors that prosecutors are punishing the doctors for refusing to plead guilty to their charges. Castronuovo and Cadet are the final remaining defendants fighting their charges out of 32 individuals charged three years ago. Those charges came from a long investigation into clinics owned by brothers Jeffrey and Christopher George.
Prosecutors said the clinics were “drug dens” masquerading as legitimate medical facilities. Scores of people would routinely line up outside the clinics, and altercations between patients in the waiting room happened so frequently that security guards were needed to maintain order. Patients would openly abuse the painkillers, usually oxycodone, in the parking lots of the clinics, prosecutors said.
Christopher George is expected to take the stand to testify against the two doctors and tell jurors that the clinics he owned with his brother made over $40 million and sold over 20 million oxycodone pills from 2008 to 2010. One of the clinics brought in so much money that staffers stored the cash in garbage bins, which they brought to the brothers' homes after bank officials became wary of accepting such large deposits. During a raid on the brothers' clinics and homes, federal agents found nearly $5 million in cash.
The doctors have been released on bond, but they face the possibility of life in prison if convicted of the highest charge: possession with intent to distribute controlled substances resulting in death. The trial is expected to last two months.
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Tampa, FL 33606
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