Defendant pleaded guilty to purchasing diverted prescription drugs on the black market, then reselling them into legitimacy via Altec Inc.

William D. Rodriguez, of Miami Florida, was sentenced today to 120 months in prison for his role in a complicated drug diversion scam, reports the US Department of Justice. Rodriguez’ illicit business purchased prescription drugs from all manner of sources, such as cargo thefts and patients willing to sell their medication, then repackaged the drugs and created a drug “pedigree” for them before selling them back to consumers. He was also found guilty of money laundering, and was ordered to forfeit $55 million in profits.

Defendant pleaded guilty to purchasing diverted prescription drugs on the black market, then reselling them into legitimacy via Altec Inc.

William D. Rodriguez, of Miami Florida, was sentenced today to 120 months in prison for his role in a complicated drug diversion scam, reports the US Department of Justice. Rodriguez’ illicit business purchased prescription drugs from all manner of sources, such as cargo thefts and patients willing to sell their medication, then repackaged the drugs and created a drug “pedigree” for them before selling them back to consumers. He was also found guilty of money laundering, and was ordered to forfeit $55 million in profits.

In his guilty plea, Rodriguez admitted “all of the drugs sold to Altec had been obtained from unlicensed, illegal drug distributors.” Rodriguez advised the court that “the drugs were often obtained from street-level transactions in Miami, including those where individuals sold their medications for money. In other instances, the drugs had been obtained from cargo thefts. “

Rodriguez further admitted the conspirators created drug “pedigrees” that falsely said that the drugs had been obtained from legitimate sources, such as drug manufacturers or their authorized distributors. Pedigrees are records of wholesale drug transactions and must reflect all prior sales or distributions of the drugs. Rodriguez also admitted to conspiring to launder proceeds of the diversion scheme by cashing numerous checks over $10,000.

Altec Inc. pleaded guilty to purchasing the drugs from Rodriguez’ shell companies, and was ordered to pay a $2 million fine, and return $1 million in profits.

If patients feel their medication is performing oddly, or has an unusual package, taste or feel, they should check the manufacturer’s website to see if there are any warnings about it. Warns the Justice Department, “Use of diverted drugs can cause unpredictable adverse side effects and may fail to treat the condition for which a consumer is taking the drugs.”

Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division, in remarks about this case stated: “Drugs diverted from the lawful channels of distribution may not have been properly handled and stored, which means they could have been contaminated, had their mechanisms of action altered, or they could be expired. Drug diversion undermines the safety and effectiveness of our prescription drug system, and we will continue to prosecute those who engage in it.”

In April of this year, Eduardo Torres, who was prosecuted along with Rodriguez, pleaded guilty to a single charge of providing a false drug pedigree. His sentencing was scheduled to occur on Sept. 19, 2012.

This case was investigated by by the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations.

By S. Imber