Pill mill kingpin Jeff George sentenced to 15 years in prison

— Pill mill mastermind Jeff George was sentenced to 186 months - just over 15 years - in prison this morning and told to surrender on April 27.

More than a dozen supporters wrote letters to U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra, urging leniency for the 31-year-old Wellington man who they described as a good son, father and friend. Making heartfelt pleas, they said he doesn't deserve the maximum punishment of 20 years for running one of the largest illicit prescription drug networks in the nation - one that is blamed for at least 50 overdose deaths.

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George and his twin brother, Chris, were the kingpins of the far-flung and lucrative operation that lured customers from as far away as Kentucky and Tennessee, federal prosecutors charged in indictments handed down in August. The two were among 33, including 14 doctors, charged in connection with the multi-million-dollar scheme. All but five have pleaded guilty.

The brothers each pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering. Jeff George also pleaded guilty in state court to second-degree murder in connection with the 2009 death of Joey Bartolucci, 24. He overdosed on hydromorphone tablets he bought from Jeff George's Okeechobee Boulevard clinic, East Coast Pain. Jeff George's sentencing on the murder charge, first scheduled for December, is on hold pending Marra's decision in federal court.

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