Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Compromise verdict in "pill mill" case

Judge Marra has been trying a lengthy trial of two doctors that lasted most of the summer.  These are the final two defendants from the large George brothers' organization.  The two doctors were found not guilty of almost all of the charges and guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Neither side seems too thrilled.

From the Sun-Sentinel:

More than two dozen clinic employees, doctors and managers pleaded guilty to related charges in the case. Some, including clinic owner Christopher George, formerly of Wellington, testified against Castronuovo and Cadet during their two-month trial.
Castronuovo and Cadet, the only clinic employees who did not plead out, denied being part of or even knowing about a conspiracy to illegally distribute drugs. Each claimed that they prescribed medications based on need.
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.
Each faced life in prison and a fine of up to $2 million if convicted of the most serious charges.
But jurors at the federal courthouse in West Palm Beach did not believe there was enough evidence to warrant a conviction on the conspiracy and drug charges.
The money laundering conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison term of 10 years, though it's unclear whether either doctor will face that much time in prison.
"He's disappointed," said Thomas Sclafani, Castronuovo's lawyer. "He's not as disappointed as he could have been."
Catronuovo and his wife celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary during the course of the trial, Sclafani said. He is planning to appeal the conviction.
So is Cadet's lawyer, Michael D. Weinstein, who called the verdict a compromise by a jury that showed signs of confusion throughout the day.
Early Tuesday afternoon, jurors told U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra that they were finished deliberating. But with prosecutors, defendants, and spectators gathered to hear the verdict, the jurors revealed that they were actually deadlocked on all but a few of the charges. Marra ordered them back into the jury room, where they spent the next three hours coming to a decision.
"We believe this was a compromise verdict, and we're going to appeal it," said Weinstein, who was nonetheless quick to praise the not-guilty verdicts as "a huge victory."
The jury will return to the courthouse Wednesday to decide whether the doctors should forfeit their proceeds from their work at the pill mills. The defense lawyers said the not guilty verdicts should preclude any attempt at forfeiture.

UPDATE -- The Palm Beach Post has some more detail about the verdict:

 Throughout the day Tuesday, it was clear jurors were struggling to reach a consensus. At 2 p.m., they announced, a verdict had been reached.
However, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra grimaced when he reviewed it. The jury hadn’t decided nine of the 13 charges the two doctors faced. It cleared Cadet of causing three deaths and Castronuovo of one.
“Each count has to be voted on either guilty or not guilty,” Marra told jurors. “You can’t leave it blank. If you’ve left it blank, that’s not a decision.”
The jury returned three hours later to again say it had reached a verdict. But again, Marra said, it was flawed. He asked the foreman to specify whether the jury had found Castronuovo guilty of money laundering. That last-minute change raised Sclafani’s eyebrows and, he said, yet another reason for appeal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd rather lose a trial, then win a plea.

-Fake Lou Guerra

PS - if you're scared, get a dog.