Cynthia Cadet and Joseph Castronuovo, two Broward County, Florida-area doctors, were issued new indictments for their alleged participation in the now infamous George brothers’ pill-mill operation yesterday, according to a press release by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. Cadet, a 42-year-old from Parkland, and Castronuovo, a 72-year-old from Key Largo, were each charged with 13 counts that run the gamut from possession with intent to distribute, money laundering conspiracy, racketeering conspiracy, and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances resulting in death. If convicted, both doctors will face up to life behind bars because of the murder charge, sources indicate. Neither party has commented publicly on the new charges.
Cadet and Castronuovo were two of the doctors first charged in 2011 in connection to the massive pill mill operation run by Jeff and Chris George, a pair of twins from Wellington, Florida. The twins amassed a multi-million dollar fortune coordinating a pill mill operation involving four pain clinics and 32 conspirators between 2007 and 2011. Investigators allege that the brothers worked to make the clinics as efficient as possible, instructing doctors working under them to spend only a few minutes with each patient, providing them stamps so they could prescribe uniform dosages, and arranging for false MRI and test results. The brothers also took precaution to avoid detection, including dealing entirely in cash to avoid insurance involvement.
The monetary results of the operation were purportedly up to $50,000 a day, all in cash, for the upwards of 20 million pills they sold. The operation is believed to have brought in a total of $40 million. The George brothers’ resulting extravagant lifestyle, which included sports cars, boats, real estate and Rolex watches, garnered the pair much attention from the press in the wake of their arrests.
After four years of very good business, authorities finally caught up to the scheme. Operation Oxy Alley, a joint effort by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), investigated the pill mill (the FBI, DEA, IRS-CID, and various police departments – including Broward, Palm Beach, Hollywood, Davie, and Boca Raton – were involved). During the course of the investigation, detectives purportedly discovered that the illegal pain prescriptions had caused dozens of South Florida deaths.
Over a year later, the brothers are serving nearly 20-year prison sentences for their crimes. Others arrested (and now pleading guilty) include the twins’ mother, one of their wives, and various doctors and other parties. Most of those named in the original indictment, including the 13 doctors involved, have accepted plea deals. Cadet and Castronuovo, however, refused the plea deals and were subsequently hit with the more serious charges listed in the present indictment, most notably possession with intent to distribute controlled substances resulting in death.
According to the most recent press release, Cadet and Castronuovo worked for the George brothers, prescribing pain medication without due cause. Their actions allegedly contributed to the deaths of nine people who overdosed on pain pills they acquired through the operation. The indictment states that Cadet is being charged with causing the deaths of seven of the individuals, while Castronuovo is accused of prescribing pills that killed the other two. Both doctors are also being charged with illegally distributing specific drugs: Cadet with steroids and Castronuovo with oxycodone. The pair will be facing the charges in court next week.