MIAMI – A 37-year-old South Florida resident, Eladio Vega, was sentenced yesterday to 87 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for his role in a widespread fraud scheme involving the distribution of adulterated and misbranded cancer, HIV, psychiatric, and other expensive prescription medications to unsuspecting patients. In May, Vega pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to traffic misbranded and adulterated drugs in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 670.
The prescription medication diversion fraud scheme involved a division of labor, in which street-level dealers obtained the medicines and supplied them to participants who inspected, cleaned, and packaged the drugs for shipment to others with established pharmaceutical wholesale companies.
The wholesale company owners prepared fraudulent documentation, falsely representing that legitimate drug manufacturers had provided the medications to them. In fact, the suppliers had acquired the drugs through health care fraud, theft or burglary, or by buying the medications from patients who obtained prescriptions but chose to sell them rather than take their medicines. With the false documentation, the company owners then sold the newly misbranded medications to retail pharmacies. In turn, the retail pharmacies sold the medications to patients who did not know the real source of the drugs, which had been stored and transported with no regard to temperature, light, humidity, or other maintenance controls.
To conceal the nature of their criminal enterprise and the identities of those profiting from it, conspirators routed money obtained from sales of the mislabeled and adulterated drugs through the bank accounts of multiple shell companies.
To date, 17 defendants have been indicted in connection with this case, 15 of whom have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison, except for a corporation defendant, which was sentenced to a forfeiture of $78 million.
U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of the FBI, Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Justin C. Fielder of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI), Miami Field Office, announced the sentence.
FBI Miami and FDA-OCI Miami investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Tamen prosecuted it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Grosnoff is handling asset forfeiture.
This operation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
Related court documents and information may be found 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.
Public Affairs Unit
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida