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Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Deaths added to Dr.'s charges

A 72-year-old Key Largo doctor is charged with dispensing oxycodone and other narcotics that ended the lives of two Florida men in 2009, according to an indictment by a federal grand jury released Friday.

The latest charges come almost one year after South Florida law enforcement agencies said they had busted the nation's largest illegal pain clinic conspiracy, run by ruthless twin brothers Christopher and Jeffrey George, who have defended their business acumen in the local press.

Joseph Castronuovo, one of 32 people charged last August with racketeering conspiracy, money-laundering conspiracy and illegally distributing prescription drugs for a sham business called Executive Pain, now faces additional allegations that he inadvertently killed two clients and that he gave the drugs to people under age 21.

The two dead men were identified in the indictment as Tommy Wayne Harris and Michael Grant.

Thirteen of the 32 defendants in the case were doctors, including Castronuovo and Cynthia Cadet, 42, of Parkland, Fla., who was also charged Friday with providing the drugs that killed seven people.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Castronuovo and Cadet are due in a West Palm Beach courtroom next week for arraignment.

The federal, all-hands-on-deck investigation and prosecution, dubbed Operation Oxy Alley, was meant to nab "high-level members of drug trafficking enterprises," who ran pill mills in Broward and Palm Beach counties, said Wilfredo Ferrer, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, in a news release Friday.

The George twins, at age 30, managed and financed four pain management clinics from 2007 to early 2010 that made more than $40 million from the illegal sales of prescription drugs, according to the August indictment.

Within three years, the four clinics handed out 20 million oxycodone pills, federal prosecutors said.

Jeffrey George also has been charged with murder in connection with the pill mill network.

At one point, clinic employees referred clients to an MRI service that worked out of a truck parked outside a strip club. Patients at times collapsed in clinic waiting rooms from drug-induced seizures, prosecutors said.

The clinics' doctors took their marching orders from Christopher George, who had no prior experience running medical clinics, the latest indictment said.

George reportedly reviewed all treatment records so he could monitor the amount of drugs that were prescribed.

Castronuovo ordered and received 388,600 dosages of oxycodone from various pharmaceutical wholesalers between Feb. 26, 2009, and March 3, 2010, according to the charges.

The Key Largo resident is also charged with providing oxycodone to people under the age of 21, which carries up to 40 years in prison upon conviction.

Castronuovo, a specialist in internal and nuclear medicine, graduated from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1964.

gfilosa@keysnews.com

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