New york man sentenced to six months in prison for conspiring to illegally sell more than $2 million in prescription drugs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 27, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. – A New York City man was sentenced today to six months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to illegally sell more than $2 million worth of prescription drugs, most of which are used for the treatment of HIV, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Jose Batista, 24, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to an Information charging him with one count of conspiring to engage in the unlicensed wholesale distribution of pharmaceuticals. Judge Wigenton also imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On March 4, 2010, Batista, along with other individuals – including Edison Rosario, 25, of Fairview, N.J., and Rudy Manuel Gonzalez, 39, of Cliffside Park, N.J. – was in a basement apartment Rosario leased in Fairview. A law enforcement officer knocked on the door of the apartment shortly before 10 p.m. as he investigated a 911 call from another tenant of the building regarding a noxious odor emanating from Rosario’s apartment. Thousands of bottles of prescription medication were found in the apartment. Batista and the others were discovered using lighter fluid – the source of the odor – to remove labels from the bottles.
All of the windows to the apartment were covered with either plastic bags or taped window shades to hinder any view from outside. The apartment was furnished primarily with folding tables and folding chairs. Numerous bags and suitcases filled with prescription medication were found throughout the apartment. An open closet held floor-to-ceiling bags of medication.
The majority of prescription bottles found in the apartment contained a variety of medications used to treat HIV – in particular, Atripla, Combivir, Isentress, Kaletra, Prezista, Reyataz, and Truvada. In all, the medication found in the apartment had a wholesale acquisition cost of more than $2 million. Batista did not have a license to distribute wholesale quantities of pharmaceuticals as required by federal law.
Rosario and Gonzalez pleaded guilty to the same charge before Judge Wigenton on February 15, 2011, and May 20, 2011, respectively. Judge Wigenton sentenced Rosario to a term of 30 months in prison on May 23, 2011. Judge Wigenton sentenced Gonzalez to a term of 24 months in prison on June 13, 2011.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Wigenton sentenced Batista to three years supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Mark Dragonetti, of the New York Field Office; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General region covering New Jersey, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Tom ODonnell, and officers with the Cliffside Park and Fairview Police Departments with the investigation leading to today’s sentence.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacob T. Elberg and Jacques S. Pierre of the United States Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit.
Defense counsel: Brian J. Neary Esq. (Hackensack)