October 29, 2015
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-3900
New York Pharmacist And Two Others Face Criminal And Civil Charges For Multimillion-Dollar Oxycodone Distribution Scheme
NEW YORK - James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Thomas E. Bishop, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New York Office of Internal Revenue Service - Criminal (“IRS-CI”), and Scott J. Lampert, the Special Agent in Charge for the New York Regional Office of the Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector (“HHS-OIG”), announced the unsealing of an indictment today against three individuals and two pharmacies for a multimillion-dollar oxycodone distribution scheme that flooded New York City with illegal controlled substances through pharmacies operated in Brooklyn and Queens. Defendants Lilian Jakacki, a/k/a/ “Lilian Wieckowski” (“Wieckowski”), Marcin Jakacki, a/k/a “Martin,” Robert Cybulski, European Apothecary, Inc., d/b/a “Chopin Chemists,” and MW&W Global Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a “Chopin Chemists,” are charged with illegally distributing more than 500,000 pills of oxycodone over a five-year period with a street value between $10 million and $15 million. The defendants are also charged with money laundering and health care fraud.
The defendants were arrested yesterday and are expected to be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV. These arrests are the product of coordinated civil and criminal investigations that also resulted in the simultaneous filing today of a civil lawsuit against Wieckowski, European Apothecary, Inc., and MW&W Global Enterprises, Inc., that seeks millions of dollars in civil penalties and damages for violations of the Controlled Substances (“CSA”) and the False Claims (“FCA”).
DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt said: “During the same time that nearly two million Americans either abused or were dependent on opioid painkillers, Chopin Pharmacy was making a killing off the profit of illicit oxycodone sales. This two-year investigation uncovered a massive pill mill operating under the guise of ‘mom and pop’ pharmacies in Brooklyn and Queens. Using resources from numerous law enforcement agencies, the three defendants arrested today all face drug distribution charges, two face additional money laundering charges, and Wieckowski faces further Medicare fraud charges.”
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The defendants and pharmacies charged today allegedly were part of one the largest opioid painkiller diversion schemes ever uncovered in New York. As alleged, they flooded the city with over half a million illegally diverted oxycodone pills based on obviously fake prescriptions or no prescription at all, helping fuel the growing crisis of prescription pill abuse. Whether it is the corrupt doctor writing unwarranted prescriptions; the greedy pharmacist selling pills based on fake or no prescriptions; or the street-level drug dealer peddling painkillers directly to the addicted, we must confront this escalating epidemic at every level. Our actions today show that we and our law enforcement partners are committed to doing just that.”
IRS Acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas Bishop said: “As the law enforcement arm of the Internal Revenue Service, IRS-Criminal Investigation is responsible for investigating criminal tax fraud and related financial crimes, including money laundering. IRS-Criminal Investigation remains committed to the investigation of those who illegally traffic in prescription drugs. Any profitable illegal drug organization depends on the laundering of illegal proceeds in order to remain successful and to operate undetected by law enforcement. We are proud of our proven track record of using financial investigations to dismantle such organizations. We also remain committed to protecting publicly funded programs, like Medicare, and we will use our investigative authority accordingly to combat healthcare fraud.”
HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert said: “Abuse of prescription drugs kills more people than illegal drug use and wastes millions of taxpayers’ dollars. HHS-OIG, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to investigate those accused of contributing to America's prescription drug fraud epidemic.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment and the civil Complaint:
Wieckowski is the owner of European Apothecary, Inc., a pharmacy that conducts business in Queens, New York, as Chopin (“Chopin Queens”). Wieckowski also owns Mw&W Global Enterprises, Inc., a pharmacy that conducted business as Chopin Chemists in Brooklyn, New York, until it was sold by Wieckowski in (“Chopin Brooklyn,” and collectively the “Chopin Pharmacies”). All three individual defendants, along with the Chopin Pharmacies, are charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Wieckowski and Jakacki are also charged with laundering the proceeds of their illegal narcotics business. Wieckowski is also charged with a conspiracy to misbrand prescription drugs and a separate offense of defrauding Medicare out of more than $750,000 by claiming reimbursements for medicine she never actually dispensed.
As measured by the sheer quantity of pills distributed, the defendants’ oxycodone ring is one of the largest illegal diversions of oxycodone pills ever uncovered in a New York State pharmacy.
In 2013, Wieckowski’s Chopin Brooklyn was the single largest purchaser of oxycodone pills in its zip code for three straight years, from 2010 to 2012. In 2011 and 2012, for example, Chopin Brooklyn exceeded the second highest purchaser’s orders in that zip code by more than 240,000 pills each year. In 2013, the DEA conducted an audit of Chopin Brooklyn that revealed more than 400,000 pills were dispensed without prescriptions. Wieckowski and the Chopin Pharmacies also illegally diverted more than 160,000 additional pills by accepting 1,300 fraudulent prescriptions at both locations, including prescriptions made out in the names of famous luxury brands such as “Coach” or “Chanel.”
Jakacki, Wieckowski’s husband, helped to arrange the illegal sales of oxycodone pills. In September and October 2015, Jakacki coordinated the illegal sale of hundreds of oxycodone pills to a DEA undercover agent at the Chopin Queens location.
Cybulski was one of the largest purchasers of illegal oxycodone from Wieckowksi at Chopin Brooklyn. While Wiecowski owned it, Cybulski regularly visited Chopin Brooklyn with multiple prescriptions in others’ names, typically obtaining 500 30-milligram oxycodone pills each time. In total, Cybulski illegally obtained tens of thousands of oxycodone pills from Chopin Brooklyn.
Wieckowski and Jakacki also conspired with others to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash proceeds derived from the illegal oxycodone scheme. Among other things, Wieckowski and Jakacki transferred money between various bank accounts in the form of structured financial transactions. Among other things, Wieckowski and Jakacki purchased a $2 million home in Greenwich, Connecticut, using the proceeds of their illegal oxycodone distribution scheme.
Wieckowski and Chopin Brooklyn also conspired to defraud the federally funded Medicare program by submitting false requests for reimbursement for expensive medications that were never dispensed by the Chopin Pharmacies. From 2010 to 2014, Medicare reimbursed Chopin Brooklyn for more than $750,000 in claims for prescription medications that were not purchased or dispensed by Wieckowski or Chopin Brooklyn. Wieckowski used a portion of the money from the federal Medicare program to purchase additional oxycodone pills for the illegal diversion scheme.
Wieckowski is also charged with purchasing prescription medications from the black market at a deep discount from the prices legitimate suppliers typically charge, and then re-selling these drugs at Chopin Brooklyn.
Wieckowski, 49, of Greenwich, Connecticut, is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone illegally, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; two counts of money laundering, each which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of conspiracy to misbrand prescription medication, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Jakacki, 35, of Greenwich, Connecticut, is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone illegally, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 in prison; and one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Cybulski, 30, Staten Island, New York, is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone illegally, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge. The criminal case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s New York Division Diversion Group D62, the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The DEA’s Tactical Diversion Group includes agents and officers of the DEA, the New York City Police Department, the New York State Police, Town of Orangetown Police Department, and Westchester County Police Department.
The criminal case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Sidhardha Kamaraju and Louis A. Pellegrino are in charge of the prosecution.
The civil case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Frauds Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Louis A. Pellegrino is in charge of the case.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.