CVS employee stole $2.5 million worth of diabetic test strips, feds say

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A New York man is accused of stealing more than $2.5 million worth of diabetic test strips from his Rochester employer, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Friday.

Antonio Rivera, 35, of Williamsville was charged by complaint with with theft of pre-retail medical products; trafficking in stolen pre-retail medical products; conspiracy to sell and distribute stolen pre-retail medical products; and wire fraud.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, prosecutors said. Rivera is accused of stealing 20,203 boxes of diabetic test strips worth $2,535,307.62 At one point, Rivera allegedly had $718,629.68 in "wire fraud proceeds" in his PayPal account, according to the criminal complaint.

Since February 2007, Rivera was employed as a senior assistant purchasing manager for CVS Pharmacy. In June 2017, he was transferred to CVS in Rochester. "This position required Rivera to order a variety of retail products sold by CVS, including diabetic test strips," Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Marangola said.

In July 2018, CVS internal auditing systems "red flagged the purchasing of diabetic strips" at the chain's office in Rochester. According to the criminal complaint, a package was located in the shipping area that included Rivera's return address. It came from a company that CVS doesn't do business with normally, prosecutors said.

An internal investigation revealed that "Rivera routinely purchased diabetic test strips in excessive amounts," well above the amount needed, prosecutors said in a release. The audit was unable to account for 20,203 boxes allegedly purchased by Rivera.

Rivera was provided with a secure log-in and pin to order items through a medical wholesale company. "One of the benefits of the secure log-in system is that (health care supplier) McKesson's invoices were all associated with a specific purchaser," the complaint stated.

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The criminal complaint alleges Rivera ordered the test strips, and then "intercepted" the shipments once they arrived. Rivera was supposed to log any shipments received. He allegedly sold the products to third-party purchasers identified in the complaint as National Medical Management and HMF Distributing Inc.

"A forensic accounting of Rivera’s bank accounts identified payments for the fraudulently obtained diabetic test strips were deposited into the defendant’s bank accounts," prosecutors said in a release.

The store general manager was told to look into the inventory discrepancies after being alerted by the company's director of operations. The general manager went through the store inventory and "identified an unknown package in the shipping area," the complaint said. The box had no CVS label and allegedly had the return address of Rivera.

A Florida company says it conducted business with Rivera. When Rivera was trying to secure a mortgage in June 2018, he turned over proof of income to the lender. The documents showed prices and amounts that coincided with the items sold to the Florida company.

"A majority of the individual wire transactions listed in Rivera's PayPal statement referenced a specific brand of diabetic test strip purchased in the subject line," the complaint said. The criminal complaint stated that Rivera "unexpectedly" left CVS on July 20, 2018 when company security tried to speak with him. He hasn't returned to work since.

Rivera made an initial appearance Friday afternoon in front U.S. Magistrate Judge Marian W. Payson and was released.

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