New York pharmacist sent cocaine to DEA agent probing his store, feds say
A New York pharmacist who was being investigated by federal drug agencies allegedly took "sinister measures" to disrupt the investigation: he had a cocaine-filled greeting card sent to the investigator's home, prosecutors indicted on Friday.
34-year-old Dimitrios Lymberatos has been charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice for attempting "to intimidate the investigation," said acting US attorney Audrey Strauss.
"Lymberatos' misguided message was received loud and clear - and he is now facing the possibility of a long prison sentence for his potentially harmful attempt to hinder law enforcement," said Strauss.
Lymberatos, who runs a pharmacy in Queens, surrendered to authorities on Friday morning. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted in both cases.
"I'm just in shock," said one person who answered the phone at Lymberatos' Village Pharmacy. "We're just speechless."
According to prosecutors, Lymberatos was brought to the attention of the Drug Enforcement Administration in November 2019 after his pharmacy filed a registration application to dispense controlled substances.
The application contained inaccurate information about the overseeing pharmacist and sparked an investigation that delayed the pharmacy's ability to get approval to dispense drugs such as Vicodin or Adderall.
According to a criminal complaint, the probe triggered the alarm among pharmacy employees by April.
Text messages found on Lymberatos 'mobile phone contained an exchange with the unidentified person who submitted the application on behalf of Lymeratos' pharmacy.
"I am afraid and I am also unable to lie" to "you, but my name is at stake here if this investigation concerns one of these orders," read the message of April 5 from Lymberatos' staff Complaint says.
The message warned Lymberato of the employee's dismissal and suggested that they would have "no problem" if they disclosed "all that non-kosher stuff" - an obvious indicator of illegal activity.
When the investigation stretched into May and the pharmacy's business was likely suffering financially from the inability to dispense controlled medication, Lymberatos launched its program, the complaint said.
He hired a private detective to do a background check on the DEA investigator, which resulted in Lymberatos learning the agent's home address, the complaint said.
Two weeks later, around May 26, a California greeting card filled with several small packets of white powder was sent to the investigator's home in the New York City area, the complaint said.
Lymberatos followed the progress of the greeting card more than two dozen times before it reached the investigator, according to the complaint.
After the investigator received the card and found the substance it contained, he notified law enforcement and was taken to the hospital for a toxicological examination, the authorities said.
The white powder caused the investigator "significant concern that he may have been exposed to a hazardous substance," the complaint said.
Subsequent DEA lab tests showed the white powder is cocaine, authorities said.
Lymberatos is accused of having sent the cocaine in order to "fear for her physical safety and to cause trouble for the investigator by bringing her into possession of an illegally controlled substance".
"One of our own diversion investigators was supposedly only intended for his work," said the responsible DEA special agent Raymond Donovan. "The alleged actions of Mr. Lymberatos as a pharmacist and licensed specialist were therefore completely unfounded."
Lymberatos was due to be presented to a federal judge later on Friday. His lawyer could not be reached immediately.
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