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Vincent Colangelo Gets 20 Years in Massive Online Pill-Mill Operation

A 44-year-old Davie man was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday after pleading guilty to selling more than 660,000 pain pills from seven South Florida clinics -- including one that shared parking with Broward General Hospital. Vincent Colangelo was also ordered to give up six properties worth more than $2.5 million, $22.4 million in cash, $20,000 in jewelry, and, according to prosecutors, 49 vehicles worth more than $6 million, according to court records.

Colangelo, previously convicted of trafficking cocaine and heroin, pleaded guilty in April, a year after feds raided his clinics. He also admitted to laundering almost $4 million and filing a fake 2009 tax return.

His arrest was part of "Operation Snake Oil," which seems like it might be a bit of a misnomer since the pills totally worked the way they were supposed to.

Anyway, most of his co-conspirators have already been sentenced: Wayne Richards got 20 months, Rachael Bass got a little more than four years, Nicholaus Thomas got ten years. Two more, Michael Plesak and Jeremiah "Tennessee" Flowers, haven't been sentenced yet.

Prosecutors said Colangelo bought more than 1,600 domain names to get as many Google searches as possible pointing to his clinics. He and his crew also "solicited over the telephone, promising excessive dosages of oxycodone, alprazolam (Xanax) and other addictive pain medications."

They charged in-state patients as much as $350 for their initial visit and $200 to $300 for follow-ups; out-of-state patients paid more than that. Patients could chip in a "VIP" fee of $100 to $500 to cut to the front of the line. They used the standard pill-mill tactic of sending new patients to get false MRI reports -- in this case, they sent patients to a clinic in Fort Lauderdale where radiologists "routinely interpreted the images over-aggressively" so patients could get pain pills.

They also "encouraged and accepted 'sponsors,'" who were people who paid for patients to go to the clinic, then were given "all or a portion of the 'patient's' prescription medications."

The clinics prosecutors said Colangelo was running, through various proxies, were:

Pompano Beach:

  • Atlantic Medical Solutions, 950 N. Federal Highway

Fort Lauderdale:

  • Seaside Pain Management Center (renamed Commercial Medical Group), 291 E. Commercial Blvd.
  • Broward Urgent Care, 1409 SE First Ave.
  • Urgent Care and Surgical Care Center of Fort Lauderdale (known as Integrated Medical Group), 2040 NE 49th St.
  • Friendly Pharmacy, 1623 S. Andrews Ave.

Dania Beach:

  • All Pain Management, 3300 Griffin Road

Pembroke Pines:

  • Friendly Urgent Care, 3121 W. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Ste. 101

Miami:

  • VIP Pain Center, 13936 NW Seventh Ave.

[@rabdill/rich.abdill@browardpalmbeach.com]
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