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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 2, 2021

76-month federal prison sentence for Arizona man who participated in South Florida prescription medication diversion scheme

Miami, Florida – On Friday, a Miami federal judge sentenced a 38-year-old Arizona resident to 76 months in federal prison for his role in a sophisticated fraud scheme involving millions of dollars in diverted pharmaceutical drugs.

Joshua Ryan Joles managed one of the wholesale companies involved in the scheme.  Rather than pay full price to drug manufacturers for HIV, cancer, and other expensive medications, Joles bought his wholesale supply at a discount from co-conspirators who obtained the drugs on the streets, from black market sellers.  While the drugs were branded medications, produced by the original pharmaceutical developers, they had been diverted from legitimate, secure supply chains to the black market through health care fraud and other illegal means. Once purchased from the black-market sellers, the co-conspirators re-packaged the drugs and sold them to Joles, complete with fabricated documentation to disguise the drugs’ origins. Joles knew he was buying illegally diverted drugs that were not from legitimate suppliers. Nevertheless, he sold the diverted drugs to unwitting retail pharmacies and consumers at big mark-ups. During the conspiracy, which lasted from 2014 to 2019, $78 million in illegal proceeds was laundered through shell company bank account operated by Joles’ co-conspirators.

On May 27, Joles pled guilty to one count of conspiring to traffic in medical products with false documentation and one count of conspiring to launder money.

Joles is one of nine defendants originally charged in case no. 19-cr-20674, seven of whom have pled guilty and been sentenced.  There are five more defendants facing charges in a second superseding indictment, and one fugitive.  The charges against these five defendants are mere allegations.  They are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

Juan Antonio Gonzalez, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Miami Field Office, and Justin Fielder, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI), announced the sentence.  

FBI Miami and FDA-OCI Miami Field Office investigated this case, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Northern District of California, the District of Arizona, and the Western District of Washington, and FBI’s Los Angeles, Phoenix and Seattle Field Offices.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank Tamen and Walter Norkin are prosecuting the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Grosnoff is handling asset forfeiture.

The prosecution was part of Operation Southern Hospitality, which is a result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, and other priority transnational criminal organizations that threaten the citizens of the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence driven, multi-agency approach to combat transnational organized crime.  The OCDETF program facilitates complex, joint operations by focusing its partner agencies on priority targets, by managing and coordinating multi-agency efforts, and by leveraging intelligence across multiple investigative platforms.

You may find related court documents and information on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 19-cr-20674.

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Topic(s): 
Prescription Drugs
Contact: 
Marlene Rodriguez Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney Public Affairs Officer USAFLS.News@usdoj.gov
Updated August 2, 2021