California Man Pleads Guilty in Prescription Drug Diversion Scheme
A Corona, California, man pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for his participation in a large-scale, nationwide prescription drug diversion scheme.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, U.S. Attorney Carter M. Stewart of the Southern District of Ohio, Special Agent In Charge Antoinette V. Henry of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI) Metro Washington Field Office and Assistant Inspector in Charge Christopher White of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Cincinnati Field Office announced the guilty plea, entered today by U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black.
According to court documents, from May 2010 through December 2012, Vin Nguyen, 45, and others conspired to distribute illegally-diverted prescription drugs while concealing the true, illicit sources of the drugs. Nguyen purchased prescription drugs, including HIV medications, anti-psychotic medications and other brand name drugs, from various unlicensed and illegal sources in California and Florida. Working with co-conspirators, Nguyen then sold the drugs to other drug diverters without the statutorily required pedigree documents stating the origin of the drugs. Nguyen and his co-conspirators sold more than $6.5 million worth of diverted drugs.
“Illegal prescription drug diversion threatens the security of America’s drug supply chain,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mizer. “The Department of Justice will continue to protect American consumers by prosecuting those who engage in prescription drug diversion.”
From December 2011 through December 2012, Nguyen and others sold diverted prescription drugs to David Miller and his company, Minnesota Independent Cooperative (MIC). On May 6, David Miller and MIC were indicted in the Southern District of Ohio and charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, 10 counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to make false statements and to distribute prescription drugs without a wholesale license. Those charges remain pending.
Nguyen and his co-conspirators used the company name “Modern Medical” when selling drugs to Miller and MIC. Modern Medical is a real California company that had no involvement in the drug sales. Nguyen and his co-conspirators simply hijacked the name to conceal their involvement and the true, illicit drug sources.
Miller and MIC, in turn, sold the prescription drugs obtained from Nguyen – and multiple other illegal sources – to wholesale and retail customers throughout the United States, including in the Southern District of Ohio. Miller and MIC are alleged to have created fraudulent pedigree documents falsely stating that they had purchased the drugs from B&Y Wholesale, a company in Puerto Rico. These false pedigrees covered up the illegitimate sources of the drugs – various illicit, unlicensed suppliers, including Nguyen – and falsely stated that B&Y Wholesale was an authorized distributor of the prescription drugs.
On Feb. 19, Yusef Yassin Gomez, the owner of B&Y Wholesale in Puerto Rico, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute prescription drugs without a wholesale license for his role in the conspiracy.
This matter is being investigated by FDA-OCI and the USPIS. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anne L. Porter and Christy Muncy of the Southern District of Ohio and Trial Attorney John W. Burke of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch are representing the United States in this case.