Six Veterans Convicted And Sentenced For Selling Drugs At VA Medical CenterFinal Defendant Sentenced Today
BOSTON – The final defendant, charged last year with five others, has been sentenced for his role in distributing controlled substances at the VA Medical Center in Bedford.
Steven Jakaitis, 50, of Lowell, was sentenced today by Judge Richard Stearns to 15 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. In July 2012, Jakaitis pleaded guilty to distribution of buprenorphine and conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.
In January 2012, Jakaitis was charged along with David DeJesus, 52, of Lowell; Scott Houtchens, 50, of Lowell; David Porterfield, 45, of Saugus; David Robson, 53, of Tewksbury; and Allen Nickerson, 52, of Dorchester, for distributing controlled substances on the VA Medical Center’s Bedford campus. The VA Medical Center in Bedford provides multiple services to veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, including alcohol and drug abuse/addiction rehabilitation services. In some cases, the defendants were selling drugs that had been prescribed and provided to them by medical professionals at the VA Medical Center.
All of the defendants pleaded guilty to the charges. Jakaitis was the final defendant to be sentenced. DeJesus was sentenced to three years of probation for distributing heroin. Porterfield was sentenced to two years of probation for distributing clonazepam. Houtchens was sentenced to three years of probation and a fine of $250 for distributing buprenorphine. Nickerson was sentenced to two years of probation for distributing buprenorphine. Robson was sentenced by to five years of probation for distributing oxycodone and conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.
“Any crime that takes advantage of the men and women who have served this nation is deplorable,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “It is even more appalling when individuals prey on the weaknesses of recovering U.S. veterans. Drug trafficking remains a lucrative and dangerous trade and will continue to be the target of law enforcement. Today’s sentencing sends the message that when drug traffickers are caught, they will face serious consequences.”
“Mr. Jakaitis is the last of six individuals sentenced for selling controlled substances in and around the VA Medical Center in Bedford, Mass. This extensive seven month investigation and subsequent criminal prosecutions are the result of excellent cooperation with the DEA and VA Police. What is most distressing about this case is that drug dealing was occurring on the grounds of a VA hospital that hosts a drug rehabilitation program. Hopefully, this prosecution will deter others from dealing drugs to veterans who come to the VA for help with drug addiction and other ailments. Dealing drugs to veterans will not be tolerated and we will continue to actively pursue those that do. Veterans who have served our country deserve a safe place to heal and recover without being preyed upon by those who want to unlawfully profit from the sale of their own VA prescriptions,” said Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey G. Hughes of the Northeast Field Office for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division.
“We will not allow our veterans who have served this great country to be targeted by criminal elements involved in drug distribution. DEA is committed to following all leads and developing investigations wherever they take us - in this case, to individuals who sold heroin and prescription drugs,” said Special Agent in Charge John J. Arvanitis, of DEA’s New England Field Division. “DEA is proud of and committed to our partnerships with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Police Service and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.”
U.S. Attorney Ortiz, Special Agent in Charge Hughes, Special Agent in Charge Arvanitis and Chief Richard Meltz of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Police Service, Bedford VA Medical Center, made the announcement. The cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda P.M. Strachan of Ortiz’s Health Care Fraud Unit.