Key Largo pill-mill doctor appeals money-laundering conviction

April 23, 2014 

Two South Florida doctors -- including one from the Ocean Reef Club in North Key Largo -- who were convicted of money laundering in connection with an illegal pill mill are appealing their cases.

Attorneys for Cynthia Cadet of Parkland in Broward County and Joseph Castronuovo, the Ocean Reef resident, filed notices of appeal Monday in West Palm Beach federal court. Their cases will be heard by a federal appeals court based in Atlanta.

The two doctors were among 32 people charged in connection with a string of pain clinics that authorities said were linked to the deaths of at least nine patients. A jury last year acquitted Cadet and Castronuovo of having roles in the deaths but convicted them of money laundering.

Cadet was sentenced earlier this month to more than six years in prison and Castronuovo got a year and a half. They are to report to prison in June.

The April 1 guilty verdict on the money-laundering counts was greeted as a victory by lawyers representing Castronuovo, 74, who lives in a $425,000 condo in the Fishermen's Cove area of Ocean Reef.

The doctors had worked for American Pain in Fort Lauderdale and Executive Pain in Lake Worth until the clinics were shut down as part of a federal pill-mill bust in 2010.

Prosecutors accused the two doctors of using their medical licenses to lend professional clout to what was essentially a drug-dealing operation.

Patients scored large amounts of oxycodone and other painkillers from doctors who performed cursory exams and did little to verify that the drugs were necessary, the federal investigation found. In many cases, the patients turned around and sold the drugs on the street.

The allegations were severe: Cadet was accused of prescribing drugs that led to the deaths of seven patients. Castronuovo's prescriptions led to two deaths, prosecutors said.

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