A federal judge recently sentenced a South Florida defendant to 120 months in prison. The defendant pled guilty to several charges, including conspiring with a corporation to resell diverted prescription drugs. Drug diversion is a federal crime that occurs when a defendant sells prescription pharmaceuticals outside of a lawful distribution method.

This defendant used two companies to sell prescription drugs to the corporation. By acquiring the drugs on the black market or by stealing from cargo containers, the defendant took the drugs out of the usual distribution channels. In some instances, the defendant purchased drugs from patients who needed cash more than medication. The defendant admitted that he sold the drugs to the company in a conspiracy that earned him $55 million.

To accomplish the scheme, both parties worked together to forge pedigree documents. Pedigree documents show the path that a specific pharmaceutical unit takes from the manufacturer to the prescribing doctor. Without a legitimate pedigree, patients have no way of knowing if a medication is genuine or whether it was properly handled and stored during transit.

As part of his plea deal, the defendant forfeited the $55 million in profit. By contrast, the company paid a $2 million fine and forfeited another $1 million. The defendant will now spend 10 years in prison.

This sentence emphasizes the serious approach that federal prosecutors are taking towards health care fraud cases. These prosecutions can have very serious outcomes.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “September 12, 2012: South Florida Man Sentenced to 120 Months in Prison in Drug Diversion Scheme,” Sept. 12, 2012

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