Boca Raton doctor pleads guilty in massive pill mill case

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Another doctor has pleaded guilty in connection with a massive illegal prescription drug network that is blamed for at least 50 deaths.

Dr. Michael Aruta, 48, of Boca Raton, pleaded guilty today in federal court to conspiracy to commit money laundering. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a more serious charge of conspiracy to possess, with intent to distribute, oxycodone, and a less serious charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Aruta, an Ohio State University medical school graduate who interned at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced after the first of the year.

He is among 14 doctors charged in connection with the multi-million-dollar scheme prosecutors said was masterminded by 30-year-old Wellington twins Jeff and Chris George.

So far, six doctors and 14 others, including Jeff George, have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the multi-jurisdictional investigation dubbed "Operation Oxy Alley." Another doctor is scheduled to plead guilty Wednesday.

A total of 32 were indicted in August in connection with the operation that turned pain clinics into illegal prescription drug centers.

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