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Pain clinic owner indicted on federal gun charges

A prolific figure in the South Florida pain clinic industry now blamed for multistate drug trafficking and soaring rates of overdose deaths was indicted on federal gun charges and appeared before a magistrate judge Tuesday morning.

Already the target of a separate drug-trafficking investigation, Chris George, 29, of Wellington, was charged Thursday with possessing firearms and ammunition despite a past felony conviction. George was convicted of felony drug possession in 2002.

A single-count indictment unsealed Monday morning accuses George of having a handgun, two shotguns and more than 100 rounds of ammunition.

The document makes no mention of the federal drug investigation, but authorities found the guns in March during a simultaneous raid of George's pain clinic, American Pain in Lake Worth, and his properties in Wellington, said his attorney, Fred Haddad.

George pleaded not guilty Monday before Magistrate Judge James M. Hopkins in West Palm Beach.

"We plan to fully defend against the charges," Haddad said.

Before the federal raids, George and his twin brother, Jeff, ran some of the most brazen pain clinics in South Florida, opening them first in Broward County and then making their way to Palm Beach County.

The clinics openly appealed to out-of-state patients — the kinds authorities say act as drug couriers to Kentucky, Tennessee and elsewhere in Appalachia — and dealt only in cash.

American Pain, housed in a sprawling 14,000-square-foot complex, generated $50,000 in a single day, federal agents said in court documents. On March 3, the DEA, FBI and local authorities raided American Pain as well as Jeff George's pain clinics, Executive Pain and East Coast Pain Clinic in West Palm Beach. On the same day, agents moved to seize three properties Chris George owns in Wellington's upscale Talavera neighborhood, a process that since has been stayed. Agents alleged at the time that Chris George piled up $40 million in assets by hiring doctors who knowingly prescribed oxycodone and other powerful narcotic painkillers to traffickers from Kentucky, Ohio and South Carolina. No drug-related charges have been filed against either twin.

Jeff George declined to comment on his brother's arrest .

Chris George remained in custody, awaiting a bond hearing on Thursday.

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