Long Island Pharmacist Convicted — WSJ

By Corinne Ramey 
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A Long Island pharmacist and his company were convicted of charges related to illegally distributing black-market HIV medication, the state attorney general’s office said on Tuesday.

A Suffolk County jury on Monday found Ira Gross, 63 years old, guilty of grand larceny, criminal diversion of prescription medication and conspiracy, among other charges. His firm, Chaparral Services Ltd., which prosecutors called a shell company, was found guilty of money laundering and commercial bribing.

Prosecutors said Mr. Gross, a licensed pharmacist, was the “architect and brains” of a four-man scheme to distribute HIV medications through MOMS Pharmacy. MOMS, which had locations in Melville on Long Island and in New York City, dispensed drugs to Medicaid recipients and then billed Medicaid and other insurers for the black-market medication, they said.

The scheme involved more than $274 million of prescription drugs, prosecutors said. Mr. Gross received a profit of $25 million, they said.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office said black-market can be dangerous because they can be mislabeled, expired, or of unknown origin and potency. No patients were harmed by the scheme.

Mr. Gross’s attorney, Raymond Perini, said his client is disappointed with the verdict and is planning his appeal.

MOMS Pharmacy is now owned by the Los Angeles-based nonprofit and specialty pharmacy-care provider AIDS Healthcare Foundation. A spokesman for the foundation said it didn’t own MOMS at the time of the scheme and that the pharmacy no longer exists under that name.

Defendant Glenn Schabel, MOMS’s supervising pharmacist and compliance officer, pleaded guilty in March and admitted to receiving more than $5 million in bribes, the attorney general’s office said. He faces up to 7 years in prison, a spokesman said.

The other two defendants — Stephen Manuel Costa and Harry Abolafia — have also pleaded guilty.

Mr. Gross is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 8, and faces up to 25 years in prison.

Write to Corinne Ramey at Corinne.Ramey[a]wsj.com

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