Licensed pharmacist pleads guilty to making false statements to the DEA about controlled substances


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Date: March 2, 2021


Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that Richard Schirripa pled guilty to making materially false statements to officers of the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA"). On two occasions in 2020, Schirripa falsely represented that, as part of the recent closure of his pharmacy in Manhattan, he had sold, transferred, or destroyed all controlled substances. In fact, he remained in possession of thousands of controlled substance pills/patches in his home, including fentanyl and oxycodone, which had been prescribed to others. Schirripa pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels, to whom his case is assigned.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: "When a pharmacy closes, powerful controlled substances frequently change hands – a potentially fraught moment. As Richard Schirripa admitted today, he lied to the DEA twice about what he had done with large quantities of dangerous controlled substances, including potentially lethal fentanyl, when he closed his pharmacy. Schirripa now awaits sentencing for his crime."

According to the allegations in the Information, court filings, and statements made in court:

In or around January 2020, Madison Avenue Pharmacy ("MAP") – which Schirripa had owned for many years – closed. Under federal regulations, before a pharmacy discontinues business activities, it must notify the DEA at least 14 days in advance. Schirripa did not comply with this requirement. The DEA learned that MAP had closed when DEA officers attempted to conduct a routine audit of MAP and saw a piece of paper on the storefront that announced MAP's closure and noted that MAP's controlled substances had been transferred to a specified local pharmacy. The DEA officers then went, in person, to that specified local pharmacy. Shortly thereafter, Schirripa wrote the DEA (in January 2020) and met with the DEA (in February 2020).

On both occasions, Schirripa made material false statements to the DEA. On both occasions, Schirripa falsely represented that as part of the recent closure of MAP, he had transferred to others, sold, or destroyed all controlled substances. In fact, Schirripa remained in possession of thousands of controlled substance pills/patches, including fentanyl, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. These substances were all recovered from a safe in Schirripa's home on Long Island. When agents executed a search warrant at Schirripa's home in April 2020, Schirripa acknowledged that these controlled substances were from his pharmacy and that he needed to destroy them. There were nearly 4,000 pills/patches in total, many of which contained labels indicating that they had been prescribed to others.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Schirripa also admitted to various regulatory violations, including regarding controlled substances. Schirripa also agreed to: Surrender of his pharmacy and pharmacist licenses; a three-year ban before he can reapply for such licenses; and a three-year ban on any employment that involves his possessing, controlling, or distributing controlled substances.

Schirripa of Fort Salonga, New York, pled guilty to one count of making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge. Schirripa is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Daniels on July 13, 2021, at 10:30 a.m.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the New York Office of Homeland Security Investigations ("HSI"), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the DEA, the New York City Police Department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Port Authority Police Department. She also expressed gratitude to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, and the Northvale, New Jersey, Police Department.

This matter is being handled by the Office's Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Michael D. Neff is in charge of the prosecution.