Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations
June 13, 2011: Cliffside Park, New Jersey Man Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Conspiring to Illegally Sell More than $2 Million Prescription Drugs
NEWARK, N.J. – A Cliffside Park, N.J., man was sentenced today to 24 months in prison for 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, 39, previously 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. Judge Wigenton also imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in 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.
Rosario, who was sentenced on the same charge to 30 months in prison by Judge Wigenton on May 23, 2011, admitted that the prescriptions were to be distributed in interstate commerce once the labels were removed and the bottles were clean. Neither Rosario, Gonzalez nor Batista had a license to distribute wholesale quantities of pharmaceuticals as required by federal law.
Batista pleaded guilty to the same charge before Judge Wigenton on May 20, 2011, and awaits sentencing.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Wigenton sentenced Gonzalez to three years of supervised release.
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 Donnell; and officers with the Cliffside Park and Fairview Police Departments with the investigation leading to today’s sentence.
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.