WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — While helping his boyhood pal Jeff George run lucrative prescription drug mills, Theodore Obermeyer's orders to doctors were simple: "Keep the patients happy."
The favored amounts - 180-240 oxycodone per month - would keep customers from deserting them for competing pill mills that offered more generous supplies of the powerful painkillers, federal prosecutors on Wednesday said Obermeyer told physicians.
If the doctors, often recruited on craigslist, were stingy, Obermeyer would badger them to prescribe more, prosecutors said.
Faced with stacks of evidence of the key role he played in the illicit operation, the 30-year-old West Palm Beach man pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of racketeering conspiracy. George, who tapped him to manage clinics in West Palm Beach and Hallandale, pleaded guilty to the same charge last week. In return, prosecutors dropped three other felonies against them.
Like George, Obermeyer also faces charges in state court in connection with the multi-million-dollar operation that prosecutors said is linked to more than 50 deaths. Like George did in August, Obermeyer will soon plead guilty to state charges, said his attorney Michael Salnick.
However, unlike George, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in state court, Obermeyer faces multiple drug trafficking charges. While the charges carry a maximum 200 years in prison, he is expected to get far less.
He faces 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on the federal charge Jan. 6. According to a deal George made with prosecutors, he will serve less than 20 years in prison on both the state murder and federal racketeering charges.
While 16 of the 32 people arrested in August as part of "Operation Oxy Alley" have accepted plea deals, George's twin, Chris, is not among them. The 30-year-old Wellington man is continuing to fight federal charges that he also ran clinics that attracted customers from as far away as Tennessee and Kentucky.
Two doctors, who are among 14 physicians charged in the operation, joined Obermeyer in federal court Wednesday.
Dr. Jacobo Dreszer, 70, of Aventura, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He worked at American Pain, which had clinics on Dixie Highway in Lake Worth and Federal Highway in Boca Raton. In addition to prescribing large doses of oxycodone without medical justification, he lied on documents to pharmaceutical suppliers to keep the drugs flowing, prosecutors said. He faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced Jan. 6.
Dr. Robert Meek, 36, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Meek, of Davie, worked at Executive Pain, prescribing a "predetermined cocktail" of drugs, including oxycodone, the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and the muscle relaxant Soma to patients at the clinic on Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach. He faces a maximum 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced Jan. 6.
Dreszer and Meek are among four doctors who have pleaded guilty in connection with the operation. A fifth, Dr. Patrick Graham, of Boca Raton, is to be in court Friday to accept a plea deal rather than fight the three felonies he faces.