Pill-mill doctors must report to prison three years after money-laundering convictions
Three years after they were convicted of a money-laundering conspiracy tied to an infamous chain of South Florida pill mills, two doctors must finally begin serving their federal prison sentences, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Cynthia Cadet, 46, of Parkland, has to turn herself in to prison by noon Monday for a 6 ½ year term. Joseph Castronuovo, 77, of Palm Beach Gardens, has until Oct. 18 to surrender and begin serving his 18-month term because he needs hernia surgery and treatment for a heart condition, according to court records.
Cadet’s and Castronuovo’s latest round of appeals recently failed and U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra had warned them, before he issued his order on Wednesday, that time was running out. Both remained free on bond since they were convicted by a jury in July 2013.
Cadet and Castronuovo were two of 32 people, including several doctors, who were charged in a massive indictment that targeted so-called pain management clinics, including American Pain and Executive Pain, in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Lake Worth and West Palm Beach. They were the only two doctors to fight the allegations.
The jury, in federal court in West Palm Beach, found both doctors not guilty of the most serious charges against them but convicted them of conspiring to launder money, the payments they received for working at the clinics.
Cadet was paid more than $1.2 million and Castronuovo was paid more than $160,000, prosecutors said.
They were hired after responding to Craigslist ads and were required to sign forms before they received their weekly payments that stated, “I did not see anything illegal happen or do anything illegal at the office,” according to court records.
Drug dealers and addicts sent thousands of so-called “patients” from out of state to Christopher George’s clinics to illegally obtain large amounts of highly addictive prescription pain pills, mostly oxycodone, prosecutors said.
The “patients” were recruited to drive down to Florida from Kentucky, West Virginia and other states along highways nicknamed the “Oxy Express” to obtain prescription drugs they turned over to dealers who sold them on the street at a big profit.
George, 35, formerly of Wellington, testified he selected doctors who did not question what he was doing and were willing to prescribe large amounts of drugs with a very quick turnaround of “patients.”
George, who made about $40 million operating his network of pill mills between 2008 and 2010, is serving a federal prison term. He is scheduled for release in 2022.
Judge Marra previously said it was “just impossible” the doctors did not know what was going on and that their payments were coming from illegal drug activity. Cadet is a former U.S. Air Force major and has two young children. Castronuovo served in the military during the Vietnam War.