15 Charged in Prescription Drug Fraud Scheme

Federal prosecutors in South Florida have filed a third superseding indictment in a widespread prescription drug fraud scheme, bringing the total number of defendants charged in this case to 15.  The indicted scheme allegedly involved the distribution of adulterated and misbranded cancer, HIV, psychiatric, and other expensive prescription medications to unsuspecting patients.

According to the indictment and other documents filed in the case, the prescription medication diversion fraud scheme that worked as follows: The operation involved a division of labor, in which street-level dealers supplied medicines to participants who inspected, cleaned, and packaged the drugs for shipment to others with established pharmaceutical wholesale companies.  The wholesale company owners prepared fraudulent documentation, falsely representing that legitimate drug manufacturers had provided the medications to them.  In fact, the suppliers had acquired the drugs through health care fraud, theft or burglary, or buying the medications from patients who obtained prescriptions but chose to sell them rather than take their medicines.  With the false documentation, the company owners then sold the newly misbranded medications to retail pharmacies.  In turn, the retail pharmacies sold the medications to patients who knew nothing about the real source of the drugs, which had been stored and transported with no regard to temperature, light, humidity, or other maintenance controls.

In order to conceal the nature of their criminal enterprise and the identities of those profiting from it, conspirators routed money obtained from sales of the mislabeled and adulterated drugs through the bank accounts of multiple shell companies, according to the court documents.

The indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy to distribute misbranded and adulterated drugs, conspiracy to traffic in medical products with false documentation, conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering, and mail fraud.

To date, eight of the 15 defendants charged in this case have entered guilty pleas.