In the pharmacy case at Sylvester, the investigation began May 27, 2011, when Hutnik, a senior pharmacy buyer, met with UM security people about possibly missing drugs, according to a UM investigative report in the court file. An audit had found that between December 2010 and April 2011 there was a discrepancy of 680 units of Neulasta between what had been purchased and what had been dispensed.
Investigators zeroed in on Pacheco, then 54. UM Security Manager Lee Michaud had found that Pacheco had recently purchased a $56,000 BMW without getting a loan.
Pacheco’s lawyer, David S. Markus, has acknowledged in court filings that “there is evidence that the defendant committed theft,” but he said on Friday, “They’re scape-goating my client, trying to blame him for the whole $14 million when it was really open season at the pharmacy where anyone could have taken things because the controls weren’t there.”
On June 1, 2011, hidden video surveillance cameras were installed to monitor refrigerators containing Neulasta. At 6:36 a.m., Friday, June 3, the cameras caught Pacheco removing several blue boxes containing Neulasta from the refrigerator and slipping them into the right pocket of his lab coat.
The following Monday, at 6:38 a.m., a UM investigator monitoring the cameras saw Pacheco remove blue boxes from the refrigerator and again put them in his pocket, according to the UM investigative report. Michaud and another UM investigator confronted Pacheco in the pharmacy. “He was asked to remove his lab coat. In the pockets were four boxes ... of Neulasta and 12 small vials of Aloxi,” an anti-nausea medication injected in patients after chemotherapy, according to Michaud’s report.
Aloxi costs $168 a vial. In a minute, Pacheco had slipped $12,416 worth of drugs into his pocket, according to the investigative report.
He immediately confessed, according to Michaud’s report, saying he had been removing Neulasta four doses at a time from the pharmacy refrigerator since November 2010.
Pacheco said he sold the drugs to a Jose Suarez, “who he had met several years ago when he worked in a retirement home.” For four boxes of Neulasta, Suarez paid $1,400, Pacheco said. UM had paid about $10,000 for four boxes.
An active “gray market” for expensive drugs exists in Latin America and elsewhere, according to investigators.
Pacheco said Suarez had also asked for Aloxi. The two men were supposed to meet that afternoon so Pacheco could hand over his recent take, which included another 50 boxes of Neulasta in his refrigerator at home.
In an interview with a special agent from the Food and Drug Administration, Max Trimm, Pacheco estimated that Suarez had given him between $30,000 and $35,000 for the stolen drugs. Pacheco later upped that figure to $60,000, according to an investigator’s report.
Pacheco allowed investigators to search his home, according to an investigator’s report. In a small refrigerator in Pacheco’s bedroom, they found 163 doses of Neulasta and 20 doses of Aloxi.
They also found doses of Avastin and Oxaliplatin, used to treat colon cancer; Rituxan, used for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; Aranesp, for chronic kidney failure, and Velcade, used for bone-marrow cancer.
All together, the drugs in the refrigerator had a value of $734,639.18, according to an investigator’s report.
At 2:42 that afternoon, Pacheco called Suarez with detectives listening in. They agreed to meet in an hour at an Outback Steak House in West Kendall. But that meeting was cancelled, several other attempts for detectives to observe Pacheco giving the drugs to Suarez fell through, and Suarez stopped responding to Pacheco’s phone calls.
To determine the extent of its losses, UM hired Navigant Economics, which specializes in financial analysis. Five months after Pacheco was caught, on Oct. 31, Navigant reported that the “university’s total loss as a result of Pacheco’s thefts over a three year period was at least $14,358,637.”