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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 24, 2022

Bergen County Man Sentenced to 42 Months in Prison for Stealing more than $8.2 Million Worth of HIV Medication

NEWARK, N.J. – A Bergen County man was sentenced today to 42 months in prison for role in a scheme to steal prescription HIV medication from the Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Wagner Checonolasco, aka “Wanny,” 34, of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas to an information charging him with conspiring to steal government property. Judge Salas imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

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

From August 2017 through Nov. 20, 2019, Checonolasco conspired with Lisa M. Hoffman and others to steal HIV medication belonging to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Hoffman allegedly stole the medication from the pharmacy of her employer, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in East Orange, New Jersey, and then sold the stolen medication to Checonolasco for cash. Hoffman used her position as a procurement official at the VAMC to order large quantities of HIV prescription medications so that she could steal the excess medication and then sell it to Checonolasco, who then resold it for a profit. Checonolasco and Hoffman stole approximately $8.2 million worth of HIV medication belonging to the VAMC.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Salas sentenced Checolonasco to three years of supervised release and ordered restitution of $8.2 million.

Hoffman, 48, of Orange, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty to her role in the scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 9, 2022.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger 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 investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

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

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
22-064
Updated February 24, 2022