Attorney General Charlie Crist News Release
|May 27, 2004
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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Two More Arrested in Counterfeit Medicine Scam
Conspirators’ profits may reach $59 million
TALLAHASSEE – Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced the arrests of two men and the filing of additional charges against three others as part of a continuing crackdown on prescription drug fraud. The two men – Dr. Paul Perito, 42, a Miami urologist, and his business partner Nicholas Just, 47 – were allegedly part of a wide-ranging conspiracy that illegally trafficked in pharmaceutical drugs, including large amounts of diluted cancer and AIDS medications, which netted as much as $59 million.
"I can think of few things more despicable and heartless than a doctor selling diluted medication to vulnerable cancer, AIDS, and transplant patients," said Crist. "Today’s arrests are another step in a long-term effort to remove unsafe medicine from Florida. We will continue to track down and punish those individuals who would take advantage of our most needy citizens in such a horrific manner."
These arrests are the culmination of an ongoing investigation conducted by a special task force composed of the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution and the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Miami-Dade Police Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Florida Department of Health.
Investigations by the task force uncovered that Perito and Just allegedly made several deals for the sale of counterfeit Epogen and Procrit in late 2001 and early 2002. After purchasing the extremely diluted Epogen and Procrit from Jose Antonio Grillo, the two men sold it to Carlos Luis and his associates. Some of these deals took place at Playpen South, a Homestead strip club owned by Perito and Just. Grillo was arrested last July for his role in the scheme, while Luis and his associates were arrested in late February.
Perito and Just used profits from their pharmaceutical sales to fund an extravagant lifestyle, including the purchase of the strip club and expensive cars, boats and exotic motorcycles. As part of today’s actions, agents in Miami-Dade County seized property acquired with the illegal proceeds. The Miami-Dade Police Department will file forfeiture actions against the strip club property, and the state Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco will be moving to revoke the club’s liquor license.
Perito and Just are charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, organized scheme to defraud, product tampering, vending of counterfeit drugs, and the purchase of legend drugs from an unlicensed person.
Racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, organized scheme to defraud and product tampering are first-degree felonies punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Purchase of legend drugs from an unauthorized person and vending of counterfeit goods are third-degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.
Facing additional charges today are Carlos Luis, Eddie Mor, and Jose Antonio Grillo. Luis and Mor were arrested in February for illegally purchasing and selling cancer and AIDS medications. Grillo was arrested in July and charged with counterfeiting 11,000 boxes of Epogen and Procrit. He allegedly relabeled the medication to indicate a strength 20 times stronger than the original, which enabled him to sell it at a higher price.
Today’s arrests link Grillo to the Carlos Luis group through Perito and Just. Investigators believe that Grillo sold the counterfeit drugs to Perito and Just, who in turn sold them to Luis and others.
The investigation will continue and more arrests are expected.