Pill-mill kingpin Christopher George was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison last Friday for his role in founding one of the largest pill mills in American history.
George, his wife, mother, and twin brother all pleaded guilty last year to charges related to pain clinics operated all over South Florida; the Palm Beach Post reported the clinics could pull in $50,000 in a single day and were connected to at least 56 overdose deaths.
The trouble, prosecutors said, started in 2007, when Jeffrey George was introduced to a pill-mill physician who told George there was money to be made. About a year later, George and twin brother Christopher opened South Florida Pain, with that same physician on the payroll.
When Christopher George "seized" control, according to court documents, Jeffrey George splintered off to open his own clinic in Palm Beach County with proceeds from an anabolic
steroid operation he ran with friends he met at the gym.
With Christopher at the helm, the patients began rolling in at South Florida Pain, with as many as nine out of ten coming from out of state, some from as far away as Ohio. He closed up shop a short time later, but he was far from done: He opened American Pain in both Broward and Palm Beach counties, plus two pharmacies, Boca Drugs and Quick Pharm, all registered in the names of cooperating friends because of George's previous conviction for steroid distribution.
The vertical integration worked wonders: In 2010, George moved American Pain into a 20,000-square-foot compound in Lake Worth that employed five physicians who were paid per patient to encourage them to keep the customers moving. American Pain saw more than 500 customers a day -- if they didn't arrive with an MRI report, patients would be sent to "a mobile MRI facility located in the parking lot of an adult entertainment business and elsewhere."
Customers also had to submit a urine test -- many of them smuggled clean urine into the clinic bathrooms; their discarded containers were swept up once a day. Once documentation was in order and the clinic staff had been bribed, the doctors would most frequently prescribe a monthly ration of 180 to 240 30-mg oxycodone pills.
By the time the operation fell apart in March 2010, George's physicians had prescribed 18 million oxycodone pills.
Although many of those pills were filled by outside pharmacies, American Pain's doctors themselves ordered 6.2 million pills, dispensed by a staff that, rather than being composed only of properly trained technicians, included "an individual who was otherwise employed as a bikini model."
In total, 32 people were charged in the massive investigation; 28 have so far pleaded guilty. George's brother Jeffrey was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison last month.