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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Former Employee of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Admits Stealing HIV Medication

NEWARK, N.J. – A former pharmacy procurement technician today admitted stealing prescription HIV medications from the pharmacy of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in East Orange, New Jersey, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Lisa M. Hoffman, 49, of Orange, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court to Count 2 of an indictment charging her with theft of government property. 

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

From October 2015 through November 2019, Hoffman was a procurement officer at the VAMC, who used her authority to order medication for the outpatient pharmacy, including ordering large quantities of HIV medication. Hoffman admitted that she stole HIV prescription medications from the VAMC pharmacy and sold it to her conspirator, Wagner Checonolasco, 34, of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, in exchange for cash. Checonolasco previously admitted to conspiring with Hoffman to steal HIV medication belonging to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Hoffman and Checonolasco stole approximately $10 million worth of HIV medications belonging to the VAMC during the scheme. 

The theft of government property charge is punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest. Sentencing is scheduled for March 9, 2022.

Checonolasco previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to steal government property and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 15, 2021.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig 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 guilty plea.

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

Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
21-495
Updated November 3, 2021