A South Florida man has been sentenced for his role in a massive prescription pain medication scheme following an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation that began in September 2009, DEA recently announced in a news release.
Vincent Colangelo pled guilty in April to conspiracy to distribute and dispense large amounts of oxycodone without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice, as well as money laundering and filing a false 2009 federal income tax return. The charges stem from the undercover DEA investigation Operation Snake Oil.
According to court documents, Colangelo owned and operated six pain management clinics and a pharmacy in two South Florida counties between October 2008 and February 2011, where Colangelo and his co-conspirators dispensed more than 660,000 dosage units of oxycodone in amounts larger than 1.4 million milligrams. Colangelo also mass marketed his pain clinics on more than 1,600 Internet sites.
Colangelo also directed patients to obtain MRIs that he knew falsely represented the extent of their pain or injuries and directed his employees to falsify patients’ urine tests. Colangelo would use the two misrepresented results to justify the amount of oxycodone prescribed by his clinic.
“Pill mill owners and operators, like Vincent Colangelo, churn out prescription pain killers without regard to the safety and well-being of our community,” said U.S. Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer. “One by one, however, we are shutting down these unscrupulous clinic owners and operators. Through operations like Snake Oil, Pill Nation, Oxy Alley, Gotham and other prosecutions, we are making a positive difference, but we are not done.”
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke sentenced Colangelo to 20 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Colangelo was also ordered to forfeit five properties valued at more than $2.5 million, more than $900,000 seized from seven bank accounts and a safety deposit box, 52 vehicles and vessels valued at more than $6 million and jewelry worth approximately $20,000, DEA said.
“Today, justice is served, as Mr. Colangelo is being held accountable for his criminal actions,” said Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Special Agent in Charge José Gonzalez. “IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to provide its financial expertise as we work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners to prosecute individuals who promote illegal schemes and put lives at risk. Our agents will continue to follow the money to ensure that all proceeds derived from the illegal activities are forfeited to the U.S. government.”