Feds: NJ Veterans Hospital Employee Caught On Camera Stealing $8.2M Worth Of HIV Meds

A now-former employee stole $8.2 million worth of HIV medications from  a New Jersey veterans hospital pharmacy that she sold to a fence from Bergen County, federal authorities said Wednesday.

Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in East Orange
Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in East Orange Photo Credit:

Surveillance video showed pharmacy technician Lisa M. Hoffman of Orange “regularly taking dozens of bottles of HIV medications" from the shelves of the outpatient pharmacy at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in East Orange, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig said.

The video then shows her “placing them in a white mail bin, and then transferring the medications from the mail bin to her bag and exiting with the stolen medication,” the U.S. attorney said.

Hoffman, 48, was responsible for ordering and maintaining inventory of drugs and supplies for the outpatient pharmacy, Honig said.

From at least August 2017 through November 2019, she “placed large orders for HIV medication, purportedly on behalf of VAMC and then stole the medication after it was delivered,” the U.S. attorney said.

Hoffman then sold the drugs to Wagner “Wanny” Checonolasco, 33, of Lyndhurst for cash, often at her home, she said.

Checonolasco, who resold the stolen meds, is still awaiting trial, Honig said.

Hoffman was scheduled for a first appearance via video conference this afternoon with a federal magistrate judge in Newark. She’s charged with theft of medical products.

Honig credited special agents of the FBI’s Newark Field Office and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General Northeast Field Office with the investigation leading to the charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole F. Mastropieri of Honig’s Health Care Fraud Unit is handling the case for the government.

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