Florida Man Pleads Guilty in Prescription Drug Diversion Scheme
Yusef Yassin Gomez (Yassin), 49, of Fort Myers, Florida, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Ohio to one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States in the distribution of prescription drugs without a license.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, U.S. Attorney Carter M. Stewart of the Southern District of Ohio, Special Agent in Charge Antoinette Henry of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Metro Washington Field Office and Assistant Inspector in Charge Christopher White of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) announced the plea entered into today before U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black in Cincinnati.
According to court documents, Yassin and others conspired to distribute diverted prescription drugs throughout the United States, including in the Southern District of Ohio, while concealing the true illicit sources of the drugs. The conspirators falsely represented on required pedigree documents that the source of the drugs was one of two Puerto Rico companies, including Yassin’s former company, B&Y Wholesale. The false pedigrees covered up the illegitimate sources of the drugs – various illicit, unlicensed suppliers – and falsely stated that B&Y was an authorized distributor of the prescription drugs.
“American consumers expect that prescription drugs will be safe and effective and should not face the risk that counterfeit, adulterated, misbranded, sub-potent or expired drugs will be sold to them,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Branda. “The Department of Justice will prosecute those who engage in prescription drug diversion.”
For more than four years, Yassin allowed the drugs to pass through B&Y Wholesale in Puerto Rico before shipment out to a Minnesota company owned by a co-conspirator. The Minnesota company acquired the drugs from various illegitimate suppliers, and sold the diverted drugs to purchasers nationwide, including to pharmacies in Cincinnati. In addition to letting the diverted drugs ship through his company in Puerto Rico, Yassin made wire payments to the illicit suppliers in exchange for a commission. The illegally-sourced drugs were purchased by the Minnesota company at a significantly deeper discount than is offered on legitimately-sourced drugs, thereby generating higher revenues and profits.
“Once a prescription drug is diverted outside of the regulated distribution channels, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, for regulators, law enforcement and end-users to know whether the prescription drug package actually contains the correct drug or the correct dose,” said U.S. Attorney Stewart. “Patients purchased what they believed were FDA-approved prescription drugs that had remained in regulated distribution channels intended to protect against misbranded, adulterated, sub-potent, improperly handled, counterfeit and stolen products. Instead, these customers received drugs of unknown quality and origin.”
Yassin faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. As part of his plea agreement, he will pay a money judgment of $750,000 representing proceeds from the scheme.
This matter is being investigated by the FDA and 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.