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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Bergen County Man Charged with Conspiring to Steal More Than $7.8 Million Worth of HIV Medication from Veterans Affairs Medical Center

NEWARK, N.J. – A Bergen County, New Jersey, man was charged for his role in stealing prescription HIV medication from the pharmacy of the East Orange VA Medical Center, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Wagner Checonolasco, a/k/a “Wanny,” 33, of Lyndhurst, New Jersey was charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to steal government property, specifically HIV medication. Checonolasco had his initial appearance by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor and was released on $250,000 unsecured appearance bond.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From January 2018 through November 2019, Checonolasco conspired with another person to steal prescription HIV medication from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in East Orange, New Jersey. The conspirator, who was employed as a pharmacy procurement technician at the VAMC pharmacy, placed large orders for HIV medication, purportedly on behalf of VAMC. After the medication was delivered, the conspirator stole it. Checonolasco and the conspirator met, frequently at the conspirator’s residence, so that Checonolasco could purchase the stolen HIV medication, which he then sold. Checonolasco and the conspirator conspired to steal $7.85 million worth of HIV medications.     

The charge of conspiracy to steal government property is punishable by a potential penalty of five years in prison and fine of a $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christopher F. Algieri, with the ongoing investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole F. Mastropieri of the Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark.

The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Topic(s): 
Prescription Drugs
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
20-348
Updated October 7, 2020