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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Four Defendants Charged In $70 Million Wire Fraud Conspiracy Involving Black Market HIV Medications

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Edvin Ovasapyan, Hakob Kojoyan, Lorik Papyan, and Stephen Silverman for their respective roles in an alleged scheme to defraud purchasers of prescription drugs, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.  

The multi-count superseding indictment was returned on September 5, 2019, and unsealed September 10, 2019.  It alleges Ovasapyan, 41, of Los Angeles; Kojoyan, 27, of Los Angeles; Papyan, 36, of Los Angeles; and Silverman, 77, of Los Angeles, each played a role in a conspiracy to operate a large-scale clearing house to divert drugs, primarily those used in the treatment of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (“HIV”).  The superseding indictment describes how Ovasapyan, Kojoyan, and Papyan conspired to acquire large quantities of diverted prescription HIV medications on the black market, and then created false documentation claiming that the medications had been acquired from licensed suppliers.  All four defendants allegedly then conspired to sell these diverted prescription drugs to retail pharmacies and wholesalers across the United States.  The drugs were sold through a company called Mainspring Distribution, LLC (“Mainspring”), and the defendants provided their customers with false documentation regarding the origin of those drugs.  The indictment alleges Silverman, an attorney, was aware of the illicit nature of the operation and assisted his co-defendants by, among other things, agreeing to launder the proceeds of the fraud.  Mainspring’s customers were never informed that they were purchasing prescription drugs acquired on the black market.  Over the course of the conspiracy, Mainspring earned more than $70,000,000 through sales to its customers.  According to the indictment, the defendants also disguised the destination of these funds, routing a portion of Mainspring’s earnings through misleadingly named bank accounts designed to create the appearance of a lawful supply chain.   

All four defendants have been charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of § 18 U.S.C. § 1349; conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of § 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h); and conspiracy to engage in the unlawful wholesale distribution of drugs, in violation of 18 U.S. C. § 371.  

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  If convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 (or twice the gross gain or loss), and restitution.  If convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $500,000 (or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction), and restitution.  If convicted of conspiracy to engage in the unlawful wholesale distribution of drugs, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 (or twice the gross gain or loss), and restitution.  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.  

Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew F. Dawson and Briggs Matheson are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Patricia Mahoney.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Food and Drug Administration. 
 

Updated September 18, 2019