Superseding Indictment Returned Against Pharmacist and Six Co-Conspirators for Alleged Distribution of Oxycodone; False Tax Returns

August 30, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 29, 2011 released the following:

“NEWARK, NJ—A 26-count superseding indictment was filed today against pharmacist Vincent Hsia, the proprietor of Lincoln Pharmacy Network, located in Edison, New Jersey, and six additional individuals, relating to the distribution of oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

The superseding indictment charges the following individuals with possessing with intent to distribute and conspiring to distribute oxycodone:

  • Vincent Hsia, 51, Flemington, New Jersey;
  • Ryan Otskey, 36, Lyndhurst, New Jersey;
  • Ivan Lugo, 34, Elizabeth, New Jersey;
  • Cheryle Sutter, 31, Carteret, New Jersey;
  • Keith Thompson, 33, Newark, New Jersey;
  • Gary Cross, 27, Roseland, New Jersey; and
  • Angelo Cifelli, 33, Nutley, New Jersey.

The superseding indictment further charges that Hsia filed false individual and corporate 2008 and 2009 tax returns. Specifically, the superseding indictment alleges that Hsia intentionally failed to report approximately $275,000 in income on his personal income tax returns for the tax years 2008 and 2009. In addition, Hsia allegedly misstated Lincoln Pharmacy’s corporate tax returns by intentionally failing to include more than $1.2 million in gross receipts earned by the pharmacy during the 2008 and 2009 tax years.

The superseding indictment was preceded by the filing of a criminal complaint, which was unsealed on April 6, 2010, charging Hsia and seven additional individuals with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. Except for Hsia and Thompson, the original defendants have all pleaded guilty before the Honorable Susan D. Wigenton, United States District Judge, as follows:

  • Pasquale Pugliese, 35, Kenilworth, New Jersey (plea July 14, 2010);
  • Marc Calabria, 33, Nutley, New Jersey (plea September 15, 2010);
  • Michael Caviness, 50, Newark, New Jersey (plea October 7, 2010);
  • Thomas Giaimo, 29, Nutley, New Jersey (plea October 7, 2010);
  • Jason Caracappa, 31, Manalapan, New Jersey (plea October 12, 2010); and
  • John Dechiara, 20, Iselin, New Jersey (plea October 18, 2010);.

Finally, Edwin Martinez, 26, of Fords, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone before Judge Wigenton on April 27, 2011.

In addition, criminal complaints previously were filed in federal court against Otskey, Lugo, Sutter, Cross and Cifelli. Specifically, the complaint filed against Otskey, Mag. No. 10-3213 (PS), alleged that he obtained blank prescriptions from the High Mountain Health clinic in North Haledon, New Jersey, that were filled by Hsia for in excess of 61,000 oxycodone pills, which pills were subsequently redistributed. Similarly, the criminal complaint filed against Cross, Mag. No. 11-8055 (MCA), alleged that Cross obtained blank prescriptions from Town Medical Associates in Verona, New Jersey, which he and his co-conspirators used to purchase approximately 14,000 oxycodone pills from Hsia at Lincoln Pharmacy. The criminal complaint filed against Sutter and Lugo, Mag. No. 10-3203 (PS), also alleged that they obtained oxycodone pills from Hsia at Lincoln Pharmacy using prescriptions completed in the names of fictitious patients, and utilized a number of co-conspirators, including Pugliese and Martinez, to fill those fraudulent prescriptions. Finally, the criminal complaint filed against Cifelli, Mag. No. 10-4206 (CCC), alleged that he furthered the conspiracy by driving co-conspirators to Lincoln Pharmacy and otherwise assisting with the distribution of oxycodone.

Judge Wigenton previously set a trial date of October 4, 2011, in this matter.

The oxycodone distribution and conspiracy charges each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years of imprisonment and a $1 million fine. The tax charges each carry a maximum potential penalty of three years of imprisonment and a $100,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited Special Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration Tactical Diversion Squad, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell; Special Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward; Special Agents with the Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff; the Newark, Elizabeth, and Nutley, New Jersey police departments; and the Essex County Prosecutor’s and Sheriff’s Offices for the investigation leading to today’s superseding indictment.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony J. Mahajan of the Narcotics/Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Unit in Newark.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Luis Enrique Ramirez, Former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Inspector, Sentenced to 204 Months in Federal Prison

July 6, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas on July 6, 2011 released the following:

“Former Customs and Border Protection Inspector Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Term

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector Luis Enrique Ramirez, 39, has been sentenced to a total of 204 months in federal prison, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. Ramirez, of Brownsville, Texas, was convicted in March 2011, following his guilty plea to conspiring to transport certain aliens within the United States, bringing in a certain aliens into the United States for private financial gain, accepting bribes in his capacity as a government official and possessing with intent to distribute a quantity exceeding five kilograms of cocaine.

Ramirez, 38, of Brownsville, pleaded guilty on March 3, 2011. At that time, Ramirez admitted that between November 2007 and January 2009, while employed as a CBP officer, he was a member of a drug trafficking organization. He admitted that on Dec. 17, 2008, he allowed a co-conspirator to drive a vehicle laden with 12 Kilograms of cocaine into the United States via a vehicle primary inspection lane he was manning at the time. Ramirez also admitted that between July 2008 through January 2009, he conspired with others to bring illegal aliens into the United States and to transport them furthering their illegal presence in the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain and accepting bribes to influence him in his official capacity as a CBP officer.

Ramirez received the statutory maximum 120 months for each of the two counts of alien smuggling counts, the statutory maximum of 180 months for the bribery conviction, as well as 204 months for drug smuggling. All sentences are to run concurrently. Following his prison term, he will also serve 10 years of supervised release. As part of his sentence, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen also entered a money judgment in the amount of $500,000 against the defendant, a sum representing the proceeds of Ramirez’s criminal activity, to the United States.

Ramirez’s sentence includes upward adjustments or increases in his calculated sentencing guideline range because he recruited other individuals, he was a public official, he received more than one bribe, he received more than $5,000 in bribes and he was in a high level or sensitive position and used his position as a public official to facilitate the illegal entry persons and narcotics into United States.

Ramirez has been in custody since his arrest where he will remain pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future where he will serve out his sentence.

This case was investigated by agents of the FBI’s Brownsville Resident office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Office of Professional Responsibility, Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General and CBP – Office Of Internal Affairs. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Angel Castro.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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“Operation G-60” Dismantles Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization Operating In Metro Atlanta

June 9, 2011

Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) on June 9, 2011 released the following press release:

“JUNE 09 – ( ATLANTA, Ga) – A large Mexican drug trafficking organization operating in metro Atlanta has now been dismantled after an indictment and a series of federal arrests. The indictment and arrests were the result of a three year investigation, code-named “Operation G-60,” conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and coordinated through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program.

John S. Comer, Acting Special Agent in Charge (Acting SAC) of the DEA Atlanta Field Division said, “These arrests are a great example of what can be achieved when DEA works hand-in-hand with its law enforcement counterparts. These traffickers were clearly working under the direction of Mexican drug cartel leadership. The substances that they distributed clearly destroyed lives. DEA and our federal, state and local law enforcement counterparts are committed to making our communities safer by removing such drug traffickers from the streets.”

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said: “Operation G-60 has dealt a severe blow to the Mexican drug cartels operating in the metro Atlanta area. Earlier this morning, numerous alleged drug traffickers and money launderers were arrested in neighborhoods all across Atlanta. As a result of the outstanding investigative efforts of the DEA and our state and local partners, over seven million dollars worth of cocaine and over a million dollars in dirty drug money have been taken off of the streets. We will continue our aggressive investigation and prosecution of drug cartels who choose to set up operations in our community.”

IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Reginael McDaniel said, “The laundering of proceeds from drug trafficking is not only a local threat, but a global threat as well, as it supplies the fuel for drug dealers to conduct their criminal activity. Tracing the proceeds from selling the drugs and then seizing this money from the drug dealers is a critical factor in dismantling these criminal organizations, as it takes the profit out of the crime. IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to providing financial expertise to these investigations.”

The investigation resulted in the seizure of 312 kilograms of cocaine (with an estimated wholesale street value of over $7 million), approximately 1,525 kilograms of marijuana and over $1.5 million in drug proceeds. In a criminal indictment handed down by a federal grand jury on May 11, 2011, 32 individuals have been charged for their participation in various criminal offenses, which include conspiring and possessing with intent to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine and at least 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, as well as related money laundering charges. The indictment also includes a forfeiture provision in which the United States seeks the forfeiture of all proceeds from the alleged criminal offenses.

The defendants arrested to date in connection with this investigation are:

●MARVIN EDLEMAN RODAS-PEREZ, 39, Norcross,

●WILSON TEJADA, 30, New York, NY,

●FATIMA VASQUEZ, 24, Lawrenceville,

●JOSE VALENCIA, 34, Stockbridge,

●MARTIN AYALA-CASTENEDA, 34, College Park,

●JOSE VARGAS, 29, Morrow,

●JOSE SANCHEZ-VALENCIA, 22, Stockbridge,

●GEOVANY MARTINEZ-VARGAS, 23, Stockbridge,

●SONIA SANCHEZ, 34, Atlanta,

●CARMEN BARBOSA MENDOZA, 33, Gwinnett County,

●MARIA DEL ROSARIO DIAZ-GARCIA, 28,

●TOMAR SHAW, 32, Fairburn,

●DAVID SANCHEZ, 31, Johns Creek,

●JUAN CASTINANDA, 25, Johns Creek,

●RUDY VALENCIA, 27, Johns Creek,

●ROBERTO LOPEZ-MARTINEZ, 28, Atlanta

The following defendants are federal fugitives:

●ADRIAN MARTINEZ-MONTANEZ, 41, Mexico,

●ROBERTO PEREZ-MENDOZA, 32, Mexico,

●MARIA MADRIZ-HERNANDEZ, 47, Smyrna,

●SAMANTHA SEPULVEDA-MADRIZ, 23, Smyrna,

●FAUSTO BUENO-ALVAREZ, 32, Mexico,

●FRANKLIN ALVARADO-MEJIA, 23, Guatemala,

●LUIS HERNANDEZ-MEJIA, 29,

●AMADO ERIVES-MONTES, 43, El Paso, TX,

●JAVIER COLON-HERNANDEZ, 28, Gwinnett County,

●CARLOS MORALES, 53,

●JESUS MANUEL SANDOVAL, 39, El Paso, TX,

●RAUL VALENCIA, 26, College Park,

●FELIX JOSE VARGAS, 38, Duluth,

●CELEDONIO ESTRADA, 29, Morrow,

●PEDRO PABLO GOMEZ-RIVERO, 26, Morrow,

●MANUEL ZUNIGA, 20,

●DESIREE FRAGOZA, 24, Atlanta,

According to United States Attorney Yates, and the charges and other information presented in court: From June 2008, the DEA conducted an investigation of a Mexico-based drug trafficking organization which had been operating in the Atlanta, Georgia area. The investigation revealed that the organization received multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and marijuana on a regular basis from Mexico. The organization was comprised of several drug trafficking “cells” in the Atlanta area, one of which was allegedly led by ADRIAN MARTINEZ-MONTANEZ, who employed ROBERTO PEREZ-MENDOZA as his lieutenant, along with FATIMA VASQUEZ. Another alleged cell head, MARIA MADRIZ-HERNANDEZ of Smyrna, also employed her daughter, SAMANTHA SEPULVEDA-MADRIZ, to distribute multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and collect thousands of dollars of drug proceeds.

During their investigation, agents also identified another alleged cell head, RAUL VALENCIA of College Park, who was an alleged source of supply for cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana, and supplied local drug distributors in the Atlanta area. VALENCIA associated with and/or employed MARTIN AYALA CASTENEDA, FELIX JOSE VARGAS, FAUSTO BUENO-ALVAREZ, JOSE VARGAS, CELEDONIO VICTOR ESTRADA, PEDRO PABLO GOMEZ-RIVERO, MANUEL ZUNIGA, and JOSE VALENCIA, who were allegedly responsible for transporting drugs and drug money, and maintaining “stash houses” and vehicles used by the organization in metro Atlanta.

The investigation further revealed that DAVID SANCHEZ of Johns Creek allegedly led a cell which distributed thousands of pounds of marijuana in the Atlanta area. SANCHEZ allegedly employed TOMAR SHAW, RUDY VALENCIA, and JUAN CASTINANDA for his drug trafficking activities. After distributing the drugs in the Atlanta area, the organizational members allegedly sent the drug proceeds back to Mexico by using wire remitting companies, such as the now defunct “Latino Mix,” which was allegedly owned and operated by SONIA SANCHEZ, who allegedly employed CARMEN BARBOSA MENDOZA AND MARIA DEL ROSARIO DIAZ-GARCIA.

The seizures of drugs, weapons, and U.S. currency include:

Earlier today, agents seized 75 pounds of marijuana, an assault rifle, a stolen handgun, and over $200,000 in suspected drug money from a residence located on Wakehurst Drive in South Fulton County. ROBERTO LOPEZ-MARTINEZ was charged with federal drug and weapons-related offenses in connection with this incident.

On April 3, 2011, agents seized 11 kilograms of cocaine. The drugs were seized by the Georgia State Patrol after a traffic stop in Atlanta, Georgia, and are allegedly tied directly to RAUL VALENCIA and his cell.

On February 8, 2011, agents seized 1,200 pounds of marijuana from a van after a traffic stop in the area of I-85 and Jimmy Carter Blvd, and are allegedly tied directly to RAUL VALENCIA and his cell.

On October 8, 2010, agents seized 15 kilograms of cocaine from a storage facility in Buford, Georgia. This drug seizure was allegedly tied to ADRIAN MARTINEZ-MONTANEZ’S cell.

On September 13, 2010, agents seized 24 kilograms of cocaine from a vehicle after a traffic stop in Gwinnett County, Georgia. The investigation revealed that this cocaine deal allegedly involved MARIA MADRIZ-HERNANDEZ’S and RAUL VALENCIA’S cells.

On September 8, 2010, agents seized 45 kilograms of cocaine in a vehicle’s trunk after a traffic stop in Buford, Georgia. This drug seizure was allegedly tied to ADRIAN MARTINEZ-MONTANEZ’S cell.

On June 3, 2010, local law enforcement executed a search warrant at a residence in Stockbridge, Georgia, and seized approximately 100 pounds of marijuana. This drug seizure was allegedly tied to RAUL VALENCIA’S cell.

On May 3, 2010, agents seized approximately 110 kilograms of marijuana from a package shipped from Orange County, California to an auto repair shop in DeKalb County, Georgia. This drug seizure was allegedly tied to DAVID SANCHEZ.

On April 10, 2010, agents seized $953,000 in drug proceeds from two couriers in Birmingham, Alabama. Agents believe that the currency was destined for Mexico. This drug seizure was allegedly tied to ADRIAN MARTINEZ-MONTANEZ’S cell.

On November 7, 2009, agents seized 188 kilograms of cocaine and $110,000 in drug proceeds from a residence in Suwanee, Georgia pursuant to a federal search warrant. This drug seizure was allegedly tied to ADRIAN MARTINEZ-MONTANEZ’S cell.

On September 22, 2009, agents seized 40 kilograms of cocaine after a traffic stop in Gwinnett County, Georgia. This drug seizure was allegedly tied to ADRIAN MARTINEZ-MONTANEZ’S cell.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $4,000,000. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) (Atlanta and Macon Field Divisions), the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), and the Internal Revenue Service, with valuable assistance provided by the Atlanta Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Clarkston Police Department, Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, Cobb County Police Department, Conyers Police Department, Covington Police Department, Doraville Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, East Point Police Department, Fulton County Police Department, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia State Patrol, Griffin Police Department, Henry County Sheriff’s Office, Loganville Police Department, Marietta Police Department, Roswell Police Department, Smyrna Police Department, Spaulding County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.

Assistant United States Attorneys Lisa Tarvin, Michael Herskowitz, and Michael Brown are prosecuting the case. Kathryn Schneider of the Office of Enforcement Operations in Washington, D.C. has also provided valuable assistance in the investigation.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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