Pharmacist and pharmacy technician sentenced to prison for diverting hundreds of thousands of opioids
PHOENIX, AZ: 12.3.2018 by ICE Office of Public Affairs – Pharmacist Vilawoe Aku Boadu, 39, of Peoria, Ariz., was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Steven P. Logan to 120 months in prison. Zinka Sisic, 30, of Phoenix, who worked as a Pharmacy Technician for Boadu, was previously sentenced to 48 months in prison. Boadu and Sisic were both convicted of conspiring to distribute controlled substances and conspiring to launder money involved in a drug trafficking offense.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), DEA, and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the Phoenix Police Department, the Glendale Police Department, and the Surprise Police Department.
From September 2014 until their arrest in July 2017, Boadu and Sisic used two pharmacies owned by Boadu – Scottsdale Health Pharmacy and V-Estrella Pharmacy – to process fraudulent prescriptions and distribute more than 200,000 oxycodone and hydrocodone tablets into the community. Boadu and Sisic also illegally diverted thousands of alprazolam tablets, and more than 13 gallons of promethazine with codeine. Boadu and Sisic regularly provided their coconspirators with 100-count bottles of high-dosage prescription opioids directly from the pharmaceutical companies.
Michael Karron Holley, 32, and Julian Thomas Petty, 27, local musicians who used the stage names “Swerve Baller” and “Bouji,” were also convicted as part of this case. Holley was sentenced to eight years in prison, and Petty was sentenced to five years in prison. The investigation showed that Petty created fraudulent prescriptions in an attempt to legitimize the prescription drug diversion from Boadu’s pharmacies, and that Holley was primarily responsible for distributing the controlled substances to other street-level drug dealers. During the conspiracy, Holley and Petty both recorded songs and music videos promoting drug trafficking with lyrics such as, “don’t talk dope on cell phones” and “at the pharmacy pimping.”
As part of the investigation, law enforcement seized 25 firearms, other weapon components, numerous pistols, rifles, a shotgun, an AK-47, and a high-capacity 100-round magazine. Officials also seized several bank accounts and vehicles, including a Mercedes-Benz. As part of the judgment, the defendants were ordered to forfeit more than $100,000 worth of jewelry and more than 650 pairs of designer shoes.
“These licensed healthcare professionals violated the law and their position of trust by distributing dangerously addictive prescription drugs to the community,“ stated First Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange. “Opioid addiction is a serious problem throughout the country due, in part, to unscrupulous healthcare professionals – such as these defendants – who place profit above the law and public safety. We will continue to prosecute the illegal distribution of prescription drugs to the fullest extent of the law, and we applaud our law enforcement partners for their part in bringing these defendants to justice.”
“The DEA is committed to aggressively pursuing those healthcare professionals who violate our trust, and illegally peddle the controlled prescription drugs they are specifically entrusted to safeguard from diversion,” said Doug Coleman, special agent in charge of DEA in Arizona. “Seeking these violators who contribute to the continuing opioid epidemic in our nation remains a top priority for the DEA, and the successful outcomes of these investigations demonstrate the steadfast commitment by federal, state and local law enforcement officials to protect our communities.”
“By creating fraudulent prescriptions with fake names, exclusively making cash payments, and using cell phones registered under false names, there is no doubt the defendants attempted to conceal their illegal activities. Special Agents with IRS Criminal Investigation are fully committed to working with their law enforcement partners in combatting the opioid epidemic sweeping our nation” stated IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Ismael Nevarez Jr.
The case was prosecuted by Matthew Binford, Assistant United States Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.