Pain Clinic Doctors Who Declined Plea Deals Convicted of Lesser Charge

Follow Up: The Prosecution accused the two doctors of being “drug dealers in white coats”. They inferred that the pair abandoned their medical ethics and were reckless, authorizing illegal pill distributors, and persons addicted to drugs the reward of being prescribed hundreds of pills at a time if they were willing to make the journey to the South Florida pain clinic where they worked. In some cases, individuals described as such would travel more than 1,000 miles to arrive where the two doctors and others like them practiced their craft.

The prosecution originally accused the doctors of murder by causing the deaths of patients who overdosed on the pain medications they prescribed in addition to money laundering; with reference to the proceeds of the prescriptions they wrote.

In a previous article posted here on July 26 it was reported that the two doctors each refused to accept plea deals, emphasizing their innocence. As a result of those decisions the penalty of life imprisonment loomed large.

Nonetheless, last week, although the jury acquitted doctors Cynthia Cadet, 43, and Joseph Castronuovo, 74, on the principal charge of murder (causing the deaths of nine patients that died due to Oxycodone overdoses which they prescribed), they were found guilty of the lesser charge of money laundering for their part in the conspiracy which involved a collection of South Florida pain clinics nicknamed “Oxy Alley”.

Cadet, a retired U.S. Air Force major, and Castronuovo worked at the pain clinic dubbed a pill mill by law enforcement authorities, owned and operated by Chris and Jeff George. Both George brothers are currently serving significant periods of incarceration for their previous guilty pleas in the pain clinic controversy.

Previously in this case, 26 other doctors accepted guilty pleas, most of them receiving five-year sentences. Cadet and Castronuovo were the only two hold-outs.

The West Palm Beach federal jury deliberated for 20 hours before reaching their verdict.

On the money laundering charges, the prosecution sought Castronuovo to pay more than $60,000, and Cadet to pay $1.2 million in a forfeiture of their proceeds. But the decision by the jury was for each to pay $10,001 in the monetary segment of their sentence. There was no mention how and why the jury came up with that specific monetary figure.

During the trial, both defense attorneys argued that the two doctors were uninformed of any conspiracy and were only practicing medicine within state standards regarding the prescribing of drugs to their patients. This standard allows a licensed physician to dispense psychoactive chemical opioid pain pills without fear of reprimand.

“There was not a single piece of evidence at this trial that showed she knew of any conspiracy,” argued Cadet’s attorney.

“It’s an inconsistent verdict when you’re saying to the judge, we’re finding her not guilty, yet on the proceeds of the conspiracy, she’s guilty of that.”

Lawyers for the defendants said that the convictions were a “compromise verdict” handed down by a jury that needed to find the doctors guilty of “something” after a trial that lasted eight-weeks. But both defense attorneys said they were pleased by the outcome thus far. They also both asserted they would appeal the money laundering sentences, on the grounds that they were inconsistent with acquittals in the more serious drug charges.
To read our previous article on this topic, click here

The FBI Press Release can be read by clicking here.

Money laundering, federal narcotics charges, including the distribution of narcotics and laundering the proceeds are federal crimes. The consequences of a conviction for these crimes can be severe and can include prison terms of unpredictable intervals. If you or a person you know or love is being investigated for or have been accused of these crimes, it is important to immediately contact a defense attorney with experience in these types of cases to assure the most favorable outcome possible under the law.

If you are considering an experienced federal criminal defense attorney in the Fort Lauderdale, Miami, or West Palm Beach area, Mr. Cohen’s office can provide you with the skilled representation that is essential to protect your rights.

Mr. Cohen is a board certified criminal trial lawyer rated AV by Martindale Hubbel (pre-eminent) and a “Super Lawyer” recognized as being in the top 5% of his specialized field (criminal trial law) among Florida lawyers. He is considered a specialist by the Florida Bar in his field. Mr. Cohen has tried scores of cases over his 35 year career and is a member of the Florida and New York Bars. He practices in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami, among other counties. He is also admitted to practice in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh and Second Circuit.

Mr. Cohen’s practice has recently expanded and he is now a partner in the prestigious law firm of McLaughlin & Stern, LLP. Through this partnership, Mr. Cohen can now lead your defense in the New York Metropolitan area in addition to the Broward, Dade, or Palm Beach County areas as well as all other jurisdictions throughout the state of Florida
Mr. Cohen is also listed in the 2013 edition of “Best Lawyers in America

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