Florida inspectors began checking. At a Coral Springs wholesaler, T-N-T Sales, they found Procrit from the phony batch. The owner told them he had bought and resold $2.5 million of drugs from Express RX, most of which he picked up at Mor's $500,000 home in Davie. His paperwork showed Mor got the drugs from Luis.
Agents searched Mor's house and found blood products in his refrigerator, $16,000 cash and $405,000 in uncashed checks.
At Luis's warehouse, agents found 30 boxes of a delicate blood byproduct, Venoglobulin, unrefrigerated in a cardboard box. They found pills with sticky labels, relabeling chemicals and bags of free samples from doctors. At Luis's house, agents found Procrit in his refrigerator and about 900 boxes of pills.
Attorneys for Mor and Luis declined to comment.
José Castillo and Brian Hill
A red flag went up when state health inspectors made a routine check at a Miami drugstore in February 2002. Six bottles of AIDS pills had sticky labels, indicating tampering. The source: Jemco Medical International.
The next day, according to court documents, agents visited Jemco in a Pembroke Pines industrial park. Nothing was amiss, but they began keeping an eye on the president, Castillo, 39, and vice president Hill, 36.
They noticed Jemco workers on forklifts moving boxes from the front of the warehouse to a rear door. There, they struck illegal gold. In a separate uncooled warehouse, they found $3.5 million of mislabeled and adulterated drugs, including a few items that should have been refrigerated. Castillo told them he did not know where the drugs came from.
Unlike other wholesalers who focused on expensive injectable drugs, Jemco had huge stocks of everyday medications: 100,000 albuterol pills for asthma, 26,000 albuterol inhalers, more than 120,000 vials of ipratropium inhalant and 156 bottles of assorted HIV/AIDS pills and other drugs.
At least 35 shipments had gone to hospitals in Puerto Rico, the state said.
The state suspended Jemco's license, but Castillo and Hill moved to North Carolina and began shipping drugs to Florida. Castillo went into business with closed-down wholesaler Benitez, and state agents saw Hill working at a wholesale firm started by a former Jemco underling.
A Jemco attorney, Ben Metsch of Miami, said the state's accusations were unproven "bull" and said the state unfairly seized the company's inventory, forcing Jemco to file for bankruptcy.
Louis F. Petrillo
and Lawrence D. Pinkoff
Petrillo owned medical clinics. Pinkoff and partners owned pharmacies and drug wholesalers.
Together, they billed the state Medicaid program for $11.6 million worth of Procrit, Neupogen and other medications, then bought the drugs back at pennies on the dollar from their patients and resold them into the drug supply, investigators said in documents.
Petrillo, 62, was the former president of Bayshore Bank in Miami who resigned in 1987 and was convicted for giving a $2 million loan to a firm selling arms to Nicaraguan contras.
Petrillo hired doctors to see AIDS patients at County Line Medical Center in Pembroke Pines and Metro Dade Medical Center in Miami. Every two weeks, 150 patients showed up for "pay day," when they picked up their prescriptions and a $300 check, state documents said.
Patients got their medicine at two pharmacies owned by Pinkoff, 44, of Hollywood. Runners bought back the drugs for cash or pain pills, documents said.
"If they're junkies, they don't want the medicine, they want the money to buy crack," said Avery, the Medicaid agent.
The runners sold the drugs to Pinkoff's wholesale firms in Dania and Hollywood, the state said. The drugs wound up back in drugstores.
"Medicaid, we may have bought the same damn drugs twice, three times," Avery said.
In the pharmaceutical case, Petrillo pleaded guilty to organized fraud and is in federal prison for violating parole on the loan conviction. Pinkoff pleaded guilty to racketeering and was sentenced to two years of house arrest.
Petrillo's lawyer, Ruben Oliva, said Pinkoff lured Petrillo into the scheme. Pinkoff's lawyer, Bernard Cassidy, said Petrillo was the head man.
Bob LaMendola can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4526, Sally Kestin at email@example.com or 954-356-4510.
Former convicts try a safer venture: Pharmaceuticals
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