In a significant legal development, a Florida man, Armando Herrera, aged 43 and hailing from Miami, has pleaded guilty to a charge that involves the distribution of over $16.7 million worth of adulterated HIV drugs.
These drugs, tragically, found their way to unsuspecting patients across the nation. The case revolves around a complex web of deception and illicit activities that spanned multiple states.
A Nationwide Conspiracy Unveiled
Court documents reveal that Herrera, in collaboration with co-conspirators, orchestrated the establishment of companies in several states, including Florida, Texas, Washington, and California.
These businesses served as fronts for the sale and distribution of adulterated prescription drugs, with a primary focus on HIV medications.
What makes this scheme particularly insidious is the creation of falsified documentation, designed to give the appearance of legitimacy to their drug acquisitions. In reality, these drugs were far from legitimate.
From Wholesalers to Unsuspecting Patients
The modus operandi of Herrera and his associates involved selling these adulterated drugs to wholesale pharmaceutical suppliers. These suppliers, unaware of the fraudulent nature of the products, then distributed them to various pharmacies.
Tragically, these pharmacies subsequently dispensed these tainted prescription drugs to unsuspecting patients who were in dire need of proper medical treatment.
Guilty Plea and Potential Penalties
Armando Herrera has entered a guilty plea, admitting to one count of conspiracy to introduce adulterated and misbranded drugs into interstate commerce.
His sentencing is scheduled for December 21, where he may face a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison. The actual sentence will be determined by a federal district court judge, who will consider various factors, including the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
A Joint Effort in Pursuit of Justice
This case has seen the collaborative efforts of multiple agencies. Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Omar Pérez Aybar of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Miami Regional Office, Special Agent in Charge Kyle A. Myles of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG), Atlanta Region, and Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of the FBI Miami Field Office have all played pivotal roles in bringing this matter to light.
Continued Investigation and Prosecution
The investigation into this case is ongoing, with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG), and the FBI actively pursuing justice.
Trial Attorney Alexander Thor Pogozelski of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is responsible for prosecuting the case, while Assistant U.S. Attorney Marx P. Calderón for the Southern District of Florida is overseeing asset forfeiture.
Fighting Health Care Fraud
The case against Armando Herrera is part of the broader effort to combat health care fraud, led by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
The Health Care Fraud Strike Force Program, operational since March 2007, has successfully charged over 5,000 defendants who collectively have billed federal health care programs and private insurers over $24 billion.
In conjunction with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services, steps are being taken to hold those involved in health care fraud schemes accountable.
For more information on this critical issue, please visit www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/health-care-fraud-unit.