Louisiana Pharmacist Convicted of Trafficking and Selling Stolen Medication
United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced today the conviction of ALVIN WATTS, III, a 37-year-old resident of Addis, Louisiana. Watts was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 7, 2016 and charged in a multicount indictment. Count One charges the defendant with Conspiracy to Possess, Transport and Traffic in Embezzled Pre-Retail Medical Products and Stolen Property, Count Two charges Trafficking in Stolen and Embezzled Pre-Retail Medical Products, Count Three charges Transportation of Stolen Property, and Count Four charges Receipt, Possession, Concealment, Storage, and Sale of Stolen Property.
After a 2-day trial before visiting U.S. District Lance M. Africk, the jury unanimously convicted Watts of all four counts. 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 medications from various locations including at a local D.C. hotel and fast food chain. Watts directed his employees to return the black market medications to his Louisiana pharmacy, and once there, Watts dispensed the stolen medication to unsuspecting HIV patients. As a result, Watts profited approximately $600,000.00 by dispensing black market medications as opposed to selling legally-obtained medications.
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 medications 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. All are awaiting sentencing for their part in this conspiracy.
As a result of his convictions, Watts now faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for Count Two, and 15 years for Counts Three and Four, and 5 years for Count One.
U.S. Attorney Fremin stated, “Professionals like this defendant who violate federal law and think they can hide in plain view are sadly mistaken. Profiting from stolen meds intended for indigent patients is despicable and will not be tolerated by this office. The actions of this defendant are a great disservice to the many honest, ethical and law abiding pharmacists and medical professionals in our communities. I am extremely proud of the efforts of our prosecutors and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners who played a critical role in investigating and prosecuting this complex and important matter.”
Attorney General Jeff Landry said, "I commend my Medicaid Fraud investigators for their diligence and professionalism in this matter which resulted in the conviction of Alvin Watts. Our office and U.S. Attorney Fremin's Office will continue working together to uphold the rule of law."
“When criminals use fraudulent means, such as theft, to obtain prescription drugs illegally, they place all U.S. consumers at risk,” said Justin D. Green, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ Miami Field Office. “We will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who put the public health at risk.”
This matter is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, the United States Food And Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, and the 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 is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Peter Smyczek and Paul Pugliese.