WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Roughly a month after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in connection with his incredibly lucrative illegal prescription drug business, Jeff George today added a second felony to his record.
Looking dapper in a dark suit with his graying hair slicked back, the 30-year-old pain clinic kingpin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering. He faces a possible 20-year prison term and $250,000 fine when he is sentenced Jan. 13.
In return for his plea, federal prosecutors agreed to drop three other charges - conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to possess with the intent of distributing oxycodene and maintaining drug involved premises. Each carried maximum 10- to 20-year prison sentences and, the most serious, a possible $1 million fine.
Allowed to remain free on a $1 million bond, he declined comment outside the courtroom. He drove away from the courthouse in his attorney David Roth's sports car and was later picked up by his wife, who was driving a Lexus.
However, such symbols of his financial success are soon to disappear along with his freedom. As part of his plea deal, he agreed to forfeit his interest in more than $45 million cash, homes and watches agents claim was part of the illegal enterprise. It is unclear in court papers what belongs to him and what belongs to his twin, Christopher, who prosecutors claim helped him run the largest illegal pain clinic network in the country.
Christopher George, unlike his brother and 11 of the 30 others charged in connection with the operation, has not reached a plea deal with prosecutors. He has been jailed since last October on an unrelated weapons charge. Two others charged in the scheme were to plead guilty today, two on Thursday and three more next week. Two pleaded guilty last week.
On August 29, Jeff George pleaded guilty in state court to second-degree murder in connection with the death of Joey Bartolucci, 24, who overdosed in 2009 on hydromorphone tablets bought from Jeff George's West Palm Beach clinic, East Coast Pain.
At the time, prosecutors said that by taking the deal George would avoid spending more than 20 years in prison. It also would allow him to serve out his state sentence at the same time as any sentence he gets in the federal case, they said.
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