News and Press Releases

Prescription Pill Distributor Sentenced to 120 Months

Middleburg Man Used Medicare Benefits to Obtain and Pay for Narcotics

August 27, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Joseph George Ecker, 53, of Middleburg, Va., was sentenced today to 120 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for illegally distributing prescription drugs he obtained as a Medicare beneficiary.

            Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Shawn Henry, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.

            Ecker pled guilty on June 16, 2010, to conspiracy to distribute Schedule II prescription narcotic drugs and health care fraud. As part of his sentence today, Ecker was ordered to repay Medicare $201,465, the amount he defrauded from it.  Ecker will also be required to repay to the United States the $200,000 that he profited from his illegal prescription drug sales.  Ecker also consented to the forfeiture of his residence as property used to facilitate his drug trafficking activities. 

            According to court documents, from 2007 to 2010, Ecker engaged in a conspiracy to distribute massive amounts of prescription narcotics that he obtained at little or no cost as a Medicare beneficiary.  Ecker sold narcotics out of his residence in Middleburg and adjusted the prescriptions he received based in part on what he could re-sell to other co-conspirators for profit.  

            This case is part of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”)  investigation (Operation “Cotton Candy”), which has been focusing on the illegal distribution by numerous doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and patients of pain medication, including the very  potent, expensive, and widely-abused oxycodone, also known by the brand name of “OxyContin”.  This OCDETF matter, which involves support from the FBI, DEA, Bureau of Alcohol,  Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosive (ATF),  Department of Defense (DOD), Virginia State Police,  Internal Revenue Service, and Buchanan, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince  William, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Tazewell, and Warren Counties, and Manassas City, Virginia,  Police Departments, as well as numerous other state and local law enforcement in Virginia and  elsewhere, has secured more than 180 drug-trafficking convictions and guilty pleas.

            This specific case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office and the Blue Ridge Drug Task Force.  Special Assistant United States Attorney Paul M. Rosen and Assistant United States Attorney Gene Rossi prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States. 

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at or on



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