Skip to main content
Press Release

Pharmacist Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Re-use Medications Left over from Nursing Homes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH - A resident of Butler County, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of conspiracy, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today.

Gino Cordisco, 47, of Mars, PA, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that according to Pennsylvania Board of Pharmacy, pharmacists are not permitted to restock medications that have left the pharmacy’s control. These must be destroyed. According to the FDCA, if a prescription or a container of stock drugs falsely describes the lot numbers, expiration dates or manufacturers, then the drugs are rendered/deemed misbranded. For example, when pills that left the pharmacy are returned and comingled with stock drugs instead of being destroyed, and the required labeling on stock containers does not accurately state the actual manufacturer, date of expiration and lot number, then the drugs in the stock container or prescription package are misbranded.

The evidence would show that at all times relevant to the charges, Cordisco, a pharmacist, was the supervisor over a chain of about nine pharmacies known as MedFast Pharmacies. He reported directly to its owner, Kaleugher. Most of the conduct that supports the charges occurred at MedFast Institutional Pharmacy, 2003 Sheffield Road, Aliquippa, PA.

MedFast Institutional Pharmacy supplied nursing home chains with individualized medication packages for the patients/residents. If the nursing home had unused pills from prescriptions filled by MedFast or other pharmacies from, for example, a resident passing or a change in medications, MedFast delivery drivers were instructed to collect the unused medications and return them to MedFast. Once these drugs were returned to MedFast, the drugs would be removed from their packaging and returned to stock. As a result, pills with different lot numbers, different expiration dates and different manufacturers were comingled. These comingled pills were thereafter used to fill new prescriptions. This conduct was initially directed by the defendant. The immediate supervisor of the MedFast Institutional Pharmacy, Correna Pfeiffer, who reported directly to the defendant, was responsible for carrying out this policy on a day-to-day basis. The evidence would establish that the defendant was a leader and organizer of the criminal conduct under 3B1.1 (a) of the USSG.

In addition to the crime charged, the parties have agreed to a two-point enhancement under the guidelines for obstruction of justice, pursuant to Section 3C1.1. The government would prove that the defendant became aware that narcotic drugs were being stolen from the MedFast, and that Jade Gagianas was suspected of stealing the drugs and providing them to her boyfriend, a drug dealer named David Best. In October 2011 the defendant arranged for a surveillance technician to focus a camera in her area in an attempt to catch Gagianas stealing. A day after the camera was moved, the defendant reviewed the recording and did not see anything suspicious, but noted that Gagianas was the one who unpacked a shipment of drugs. Between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. that day, the defendant conducted an inventory and realized there was a shortage of Opana ER 40 mg. The defendant took Gagianas to a back room and questioned her about the theft. She eventually admitted to this theft as well as additional thefts that had taken place in the past. She told the defendant that she gave the Opana prescription to her boyfriend, David Best. The defendant told Gagianas that he wanted the drugs back and told her to call Best to ask him to return them. Gagianas made the call, but Best would not bring them back for fear of getting arrested. The defendant told Best he would contact the police if Best did not agree to return the stolen Opana. After about two hours, Best showed up at the pharmacy but did not have the drugs in his possession. Best told Gagianas where he had hidden the drugs down the street. The defendant took Gagianas and drove to the location where Best said he had hidden the drugs. The drugs were recovered by Gagianas from a bush in front of a convent. The defendant took the Opana pill vial from Gagianas and observed that the seal had been broken on the prescription vial and opened the vial to see that the cotton was still in the vial. He returned to the pharmacy with it. The drugs had been out of the possession of the pharmacy from between two and six hours. Knowing that the drugs had been stolen, had been in the hands of a drug dealer, that they were recovered from a bush after being gone from the pharmacy from between two and six hours, the defendant thereafter ordered another pharmacist to restock the Opana. The Schedule II log of the pharmacy relflects that 79 Opana pills were restocked. Jade Gagianas was fired that day by the defendant for stealing Opana.

The defendant was interviewed by DEA S.A. Vijay Nemani on May 29, 2013. S/A Nemani asked the defendant if there had ever been any diversion of pharmaceutical or disciplinary problems of any current or former employees. The defendant stated there were "none that he knew of." This statement was not true.

S/A Nemani then asked the defendant about any former employees and he stated Jade Gagianas worked there as a Pharmacy Technician for a while and that her boyfriend had drug issues. The defendant stated Gagianas quit awhile back claiming she was "stressed out." The defendant stated Gagianas quit her job but was not fired or let go. This statement was not true.

S/A Nemani asked the defendant pointedly if there were any instances of any current or former employees, at the Baden pharmacy, where the employee had stolen controlled substances and then was asked to return the controlled substances to the pharmacy. The defendant stated that he was not aware of any instances. This statement was not true.

S/A Nemani also asked if there were any current or former employees that had been fired or asked to resign as a result of the diversion of controlled substances and the defendant stated, "no." This statement was not true.

We have no evidence that any patient was harmed in any way as a result of any of the conduct described herein.

Judge Schwab scheduled sentencing for April 16, 2018. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 5 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Nelson P. Cohen is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration-OCI, the Drug Enforcement Administration-Diversion Investigators, the Health and Human Service-OIG and the Office of Personnel Management-OIG conducted the investigation leading to the information in this case.

Updated December 26, 2017

Prescription Drugs