Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations
March 7, 2011: Cliffside Park, New Jersey Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Illegally Sell More than $2 Million in Prescription Drugs
NEWARK, N.J. – A Cliffside Park, N.J., man admitted today to his role in a conspiracy to illegally sell more than $2 million worth of prescription drugs, most of which are used for the treatment of HIV, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Rudy Manuel Gonzalez, 38, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to an Information charging him with one count of conspiring to engage in the unlicensed wholesale distribution of pharmaceuticals.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in Newark federal court:
On March 4, 2010, Gonzalez was discovered along with other individuals – including Edison Rosario, 25, of Fairview, N.J., and Jose Batista, 24, of New York – in a basement apartment Rosario leased in Fairview. A law enforcement officer knocked on the door of the apartment shortly before 10 p.m. as he investigated a 911 call from another tenant of the building regarding a noxious odor emanating from Rosario’s apartment. Thousands of bottles of prescription medication were found in the apartment. Gonzalez and the others were discovered using lighter fluid – the source of the odor – to remove labels from the bottles.
All of the windows to the apartment were covered with either plastic bags or taped window shades to hinder any view from outside. The apartment was furnished primarily with folding tables and folding chairs. Numerous bags and suitcases filled with prescription medication were found throughout the apartment. An open closet held floor-to-ceiling bags of the medication.
The majority of prescription bottles found in the apartment contained a variety of medications used to treat HIV – in particular, Atripla, Combivir, Isentress, Kaletra, Prezista, Reyataz, and Truvada. In all, the medication found in the apartment had a Wholesale Acquisition Cost of more than $2 million.
Gonzalez admitted that the prescriptions were to be distributed in interstate commerce once the labels were removed and the bottles were clean. Gonzalez did not have a license to distribute wholesale quantities of pharmaceuticals as required by federal law.
Rosario pleaded guilty to the same charge before Judge Wigenton on February 15, 2011. Gonzalez, Rosario, and Batista were originally charged in a federal Complaint on September 22,
2010. The case against Batista remains pending.
The conspiracy charge to which Gonzalez and Rosario have pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Both have been remanded to custody pending sentencing, scheduled for June 13, 2011, and May 23, 2011, respectively.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Mark Dragonetti, of the New York Field Office; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General region covering New Jersey, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Tom ODonnell; and officers with the Cliffside Park and Fairview Police Departments with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacob T. Elberg and Jacques S. Pierre of the United States Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit. As for Batista, the charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: Justin Levine, Esq., Bronx, N.Y.