Louisiana Pharmacist Convicted of Trafficking and Dispensing Stolen HIV Medication
BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced today that U.S. District Judge Lance M. Africk sentenced ALVIN WATTS, III, a 37-year-old resident of Addis, Louisiana, to 108 months in federal prison for his conviction after a 2-day jury trial on a multiple count indictment. All counts involved stolen HIV medication, and included WATTS’ conspiracy to possess, transport, and traffic in the medication; trafficking and transporting the stolen medication; and receiving and possessing stolen medication.
As the evidence at trial demonstrated, WATTS was a co-owner and pharmacist of Doc-Your-Dose Pharmacy in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. In 2013, WATTS organized a scheme to purchase black market HIV pharmaceutical drugs that had been stolen from the Washington, D.C. Department of Health Pharmacy Warehouse intended for indigent HIV patients in Washington, D.C. WATTS sent two of his employees to D.C. on multiple occasions between June and September of 2013 to purchase the stolen medication and transport it back to his Louisiana pharmacy. As a result, WATTS profited approximately $640,000.00 by dispensing the stolen medication, as opposed to selling legally-obtained medication.
WATTS’ criminal conduct became known as the result of a traffic stop near Chattanooga, Tennessee, in which his couriers were stopped for speeding. During the stop, officers discovered a significant quantity of stolen HIV medication in the trunk of their vehicle. The investigation identified WATTS’ criminal conduct along with the conduct of four co-conspirators who were indicted and subsequently pled guilty for their involvement in this scheme and have been sentenced.
During today’s hearing, Judge Africk highlighted WATTS’ greed, extreme depravity in selling stolen HIV medications that were intended for indigent HIV patients in the D.C. area, and the fact that he obstructed justice in attempting to prevent a government witness from testifying.
U.S. Attorney Fremin stated, “Medical professionals like the defendant cannot be allowed to profit by dispensing stolen medication intended for indigent patients. The actions of this defendant are a great disservice to the pharmacists and medical professionals in our community who ensure that patients’ well-being is their highest priority. I commend the superb efforts of prosecutors and federal and state local law enforcement partners who played a critical role in investigating and prosecuting this complex and important matter.”
“The health of patients is jeopardized when prescription drugs are diverted from the legal supply chain. When this happens, there is no longer any assurance that the products are safe and effective for their intended uses,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge H. Peter Kuehl, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Miami Field Office. “We will continue to investigate these types of criminal acts and bring to justice those who put the public health at risk.
“I applaud my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and our federal law enforcement partners for their efforts to end this criminal conspiracy,” said Attorney General Landry. “We will remain steadfast in our commitment to find, arrest, and prosecute Medicaid fraudsters.”
This matter was investigated by the United States Food And Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations and Louisiana State Attorney General’s Office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, with assistance from the State of Tennessee 10th Judicial District Drug & Violent Crime Task Force. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Peter Smyczek and Paul Pugliese.