WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Dr. Gerald Joseph Klein, one of 32 defendants involved in what the FBI is calling the dismantling of the nation's largest criminal organization of illegal distribution of painkillers, was denied bond Wednesday.
Of the 32 defendants making their first appearance in court, 13 are doctors. They come from clinics that spread from West Palm Beach to Miami, and the charges are as serious as murder.
Among those defendants is Jeffrey George, who will make his first federal court appearance Wednesday. He faces the charge of murder. Prosecutors say Jeffrey George and his twin brother Christopher ran a $40 million criminal enterprise, involving doctors who agreed to prescribe pain pills to patients without good medical reason. They were prescribed large numbers of pills, like oxycontin and oxycodone.
Prosecutors say one of the clinics the George brothers helped to run was seeing more than 500 patients a day, and 80 percent of those seen at the clinic were from out of state.
The murder charges that some of the defendants face stem from the death of a patient who overdosed on pain killers.
"These defendants showed a callous disregard for the well-being of their patients and the value of human life," said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer. "For years, they distributed oxycodone and other controlled substances without regard to medical need, without individual treatment plans and without physical examinations."
In addition to the illegal distribution of controlled substances, many of the defendants are alleged to have participated in fraudulent telemarketing.
Using warrants, the government has seized about $4.7 million in cash from defendants' residences and various houses and automobiles worth more than $9 million, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.