MIAMI — A former pill mill kingpin was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison but could wind up serving far less time because of his extensive cooperation with investigators.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke said the sentence she imposed on 43-year-old Vincent Colangelo "is not his last bite at the apple," assuming prosecutors eventually recommend less time because of information he is providing them about illegal prescription drug operations around the southeastern U.S.
"He has significant institutional knowledge of all the players unrivaled by anyone else," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Behnke at a sentencing hearing.
"He has been forthright, forthcoming and helpful," added Colangelo's attorney, Alvin Entin.
Court records show Colangelo's eight clinics in Broward and Miami-Dade counties dispensed at least 660,000 oxycodone and other pills between January 2009 and December 2010. According to an indictment, Colangelo used about 1,600 Internet domain names to troll for illicit drug business from around the country.
After his arrest, authorities seized cash, 50 vehicles, boats, real estate and other assets from Colangelo after his arrest. In court Friday, Colangelo apologized and blamed his actions on a "terrible addiction to drugs." He had previously served more than four years in state prison on heroin and cocaine distribution convictions
"I'm very sorry for what I did," he said.
Colangelo was one of 20 people arrested in a February 2011 pill mill sweep, one of several in a recent crackdown.
The raids came after undercover agents made at least 340 purchases painkillers at 40 clinics over the past year. Florida has been the epicenter of a mushrooming prescription drug problem, at the time providing 85 percent of all oxycodone sold in the U.S., state law enforcement officials say.
In addition to the law enforcement actions, the state now has a prescription drug tracking database up and running that had been delayed by opposition from Gov. Rick Scott.