Wellington pill mill "kingpin" Jeff George has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the overdose death of Joey Bartolucci in 2009. George, along with his twin brother, Chris, rode the pill-mill craze from several years back and became overnight millionaires through their pain-pill empire.
On February 27, 2009, Bartolucci went into the George brothers' East Coast Pain Clinic and purchased 150 Dilaudid painkiller pills and 30 Xanax pills, all in cash. Bartolucci died of an overdose hours later.
At this point, the East Coast Pain Clinic had already become a $40 million empire among other pill mills that had cropped up in and around South Florida.
Pill mills became the go-to spots for drug addicts during that time. In 2011, the George twins were arrested and charged. Authorities had estimated the brothers' pill-mill empire was responsible for at least 50 overdose deaths.
Jeff soon began cooperating with authorities and naming names of everyone involved in his and his brother's operation. Joseph Klein, the doctor who had prescribed the pills to Bartolucci, was charged with first-degree murder in a vast set of charges stemming from a multiagency operation called "Prescription for Death" that involved the Palm Beach County state attorney and federal agencies.
"Records show that during the time frame of January 2009 and June 2010, Dr. Klein, through his business relationship with Mr. George, dispensed over 300,000 Oxycodone pills," the State Attorney's Office said in a news release at the time of his arrest.
Jeff George testified against Dr. Klein but earlier this year, Klein was acquitted by a jury. He was convicted on a charge of illegally selling Xanax to another patient.
Pill mill boss Jeff George gets 20 years in prison for patient death @ East Coast Pain Clinic. He had taken a plea, asked for 9/10 yr term.— PB Post Courts (@pbpcourts) December 2, 2015
Christopher George, meanwhile, was sentenced to 17 and a half years in prison last year but had his sentence reduced by three years after cooperating with prosecutors and ratting out more doctors.
Both brothers had pleaded guilty to racketeering in federal court, with Jeff pleading guilty in state court to second-degree murder in connection to Bertolucci's death.
As part of his plea deal for testifying against Klein, Jeff's sentence on both the state and federal charges would be capped at 20 years.
And 20 years it is.