'American Pain': Former Wellington pill mill kingpins Chris, Jeff George subjects of CNN documentary
Through the largest illegal prescription drug network in the country, Wellington twin brothers Jeff and Chris George were dubbed Palm Beach County’s pill-mill kingpins a little over a decade ago.
From five locations in Palm Beach and Broward counties, clinics owned by the George brothers pumped out 20 million doses of oxycodone nationwide during the height of their operation from 2008 to 2010, local and federal authorities said. Federal officials estimated that the pill mill operation generated more than $40 million and contributed to at least 50 overdose deaths.
The George brothers’ exploits will be the subject of the CNN documentary, “American Pain,” set to premiere on Feb. 5. The documentary had its world premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.
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“American Pain is the story of the greatest drug racket to hit the Sunshine State since the cocaine cowboys of the 1980s,” director Darren Foster said in a prepared statement.“The George brothers were the biggest players among a colorful cast of characters who made millions during Florida’s pill mill boom. Together with their trusty suppliers — a pharmaceutical industry pumping out billions of powerful and addictive pills — they fueled the worst drug epidemic in American history.”
The Post ran extensive investigations into the oxycodone epidemic
The George brothers' operations involved the mob as well as the former husband of Palm Beach socialite Roxanne Pulitzer.
The Palm Beach Post won awards for its extensive coverage of the oxycodone epidemic and the explosion of pill mills in South Florida — a destination for dealers from all over the country.
The George brothers and their family were targeted in federal and state probes for not only overprescribing the pills but also murder for the users who died. Authorities investigated the entire George family, including their father, prominent home builder John Paul George, their mother Denice Haggerty, who hid millions in cash in her attic, and Chris’ wife, Dianna, a former stripper. Haggerty and Dianna George both were sentenced to 2½ years in federal prison for wire fraud. The father wasn't charged.
The Post later in an award-winning investigation uncovered how these multimillion-dollar operations in Florida created the heroin epidemic that has swept the country. That series, Igniting the Heroin Epidemic, showed how rogue South Florida pain clinics nourished addiction and death in Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and beyond. And once Florida authorities clamped down in 2011, those addicted to opioids turned to heroin.
The George brothers:Twin kingpins behind some of the most brazen pain clinics in South Florida
Making a deal:Pill mill kingpin Chris George wins a reduced sentence for finking out doctors
Headed to prison:George pleads guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for cooperation
Chris George released from federal prison in 2022
Since pleading guilty in 2011 to federal racketeering and other charges, one of the 42-year-old twin brothers has been released from custody while the other remains incarcerated, records show.
Chris George was released from federal prison in February 2022, according to records from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He initially was sentenced to 17 ½ years in prison, but had the sentence reduced to 14 years after he agreed to testify in the federal trial of two doctors who worked at his clinics and were accused of contributing to the deaths of eight patients.
Despite his testimony, a jury cleared Drs. Cynthia Cadet and Joseph Castronuovo of charges related to the patient deaths, finding them guilty only of money laundering.
Jeff George was sentenced to 20 years and remains in federal custody, according to Florida Department of Corrections records. His scheduled release date is in January 2030.
Julius Whigham II is a criminal justice and public safety reporter for The Palm Beach Post. You can reach him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @JuliusWhigham. Help support our work: Subscribe today.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: American Pain: CNN focuses on George brothers, Florida pill mill twins