Defendants sentenced for prescription drug conspiracy, money laundering

PENSACOLA — Dennis M. Caroni, 38, of Los Angeles, Dr. Gerard M. DiLeo, 61 of Bradenton, and Dr. Joseph G. Pastorek II, 62 of Slidell, La., were sentenced recently by Chief U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers for their roles in running illegal pill mill pain clinics in Pensacola and New Orleans.

After a six-week trial in United States District Court in Pensacola in October and November 2011, all three defendants were charged and found guilty of conspiring to unlawfully distribute prescription pain killers. Caroni and DiLeo also were convicted of conspiring to unlawfully launder the proceeds of their prescription drug distribution violations. 

As the owner and operator of Global pain management clinics in Pensacola and the New Orleans area between 2004 and 2008, Caroni was sentenced by Chief Judge Rodgers to 20 years in prison. DiLeo was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment plus one additional year home confinement for his role as part-owner of one of the clinics and full-time prescribing physician. The other prescribing physician charged, Pastorek, was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment plus one additional year of home confinement.

The sentencing hearing for all three defendants originally commenced July 25, 2012. The proceeding was adjourned after two days to give Chief Judge Rodgers additional time to consider the evidence before making a ruling. The hearing resumed Jan. 17, 2013, to present additional evidence for the judge’s consideration. After final arguments by the attorneys this morning, Chief Judge Rodgers pronounced the sentence for each defendant.

“The protection of citizens from unscrupulous individuals who operate pill mills, dispensing highly addictive controlled substances, is a primary concern of health care fraud investigations,” said U.S. Attorney Marsh. “Operators of such clinics and the doctors they hire to peddle dangerous narcotics will be vigorously prosecuted by this office. These defendants irresponsibly distributed oxycodone, methadone and hydrocodone, and they operated outside the usual course of professional medical practice — in short, they were drug dealers. The indiscriminate over-prescribing of narcotic drugs wreaks havoc on society by causing addiction and potential overdose deaths. The combination of illegal drug distribution and the theft of public funds and fraud committed against the taxpayers and health care benefit programs remains a high priority of the Department of Justice.”

This case was the result of a multi-year Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force operation named “Doc-in-a-Box,” and the cooperative efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service — Criminal Investigation, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Florida. The defendants were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Randy Hensel and Alicia Kim.